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My Equifax Breach Story

O Bee Blog

My Equifax Breach Story

When I first heard the news about the Equifax data breach, I became very concerned. Working for a credit union, I immediately considered our members and how they were going to be affected by this incident. Then, I began to think about my own credit history and how proud I was to pay off past debt and repair my credit. The thought of someone ruining all that, literally made me sick. But before I went into full-on panic-mode I decided to investigate further. Just how many individuals were affected? What is the likelihood that I was impacted? AND, if I was, what could be done to maintain my pristine credit rating.  

I began my search online for the hard numbers: According to this article  from CBS’ News website in October, Equifax stated that 145.5 million Americans had their personal information compromised. That’s roughly 60% of the adult population. That’s a lot of people. “Don’t panic,” I told myself.

At this point it’s highly likely that my information was compromised, but was my credit impacted?

I started at AnnualCreditReport.com to access my reports from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You have the right to request a free copy of your credit reports from each bureau once a year. “Reviewing [your] credit reports helps you catch signs of [credit fraud] and identity theft early,” according to the federally authorized website.

After carefully reviewing my report from each agency, I exhaled a sigh of relief. There was nothing out of the ordinary. Everything checked out okay. BUT, just because I hadn’t been victimized by fraudsters in the breach doesn’t mean I wasn’t vulnerable in the future. I decided to take charge of my credit to get ahead of the game. What does that look like?

Each agency’s website gives you the option to set alerts so if someone applies for credit in your name, you’ll be notified to confirm the request before it gets approved. You can also Freeze or Lock your credit, but what does that mean?

Great question! A Lock and Freeze both restrict lenders from accessing to your credit report. You’re required to initiate both through each bureau, and they can be removed, albeit, with some difficulty. Freezes are governed by state laws. Locks are loosely mandated by a contract between you and the credit bureau. You’re not giving up your legal rights when opting for a Freeze, where as your rights are more restricted with a Lock. For more information on Freezing VS Locking your credit, check out this in depth article from Nasdaq.com. I also found this helpful step-by-step guide on Freezing your credit with each agency.  

I have to admit that I’m almost grateful this happened to me (almost). If it weren’t for this incident I would never have learned how important it is to know what’s on my credit report. In addition, I also learned about my rights as a consumer and how easy it is to set up features to protect my credit history and take control of my credit future.

 
References:

CBS News Article: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/equifax-data-breach-millions-more-affected/
AnnualCreditReport.com: https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action
Nasdaq Article: http://www.nasdaq.com/article/credit-lock-vs-credit-freeze-how-these-security-options-stack-up-cm856592
Clark - Step-by-step credit freezing & locking: http://clark.com/personal-finance-credit/credit-freeze-and-thaw-guide/
 


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