Are you one of them?
Earlier this month, Equifax announced a huge security breach that exposed the private information of an estimated 143 million consumers – nearly half the U.S. population. If you have a credit report, you could be one of them.
The breached information occurred from mid-May through July 2017 and included people’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. The hackers also stole credit card numbers for about 209,000 people and dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 people.
Unlike other types of data breaches, CNN said those affected by the Equifax breach may not even be aware that they are at risk. “The company gets its data from credit card companies, banks, retailers and lenders — sometimes without you knowing.”
Bottom line: Beyond the Equifax breach, there are many other ways your personal information can be compromised, making you vulnerable to identity theft, such as losing your wallet or through the hack of an online account.
The Federal Trade Commission, whose role includes consumer protection, offers these steps to help protect yourself after a data breach:
- Check your credit reports from the three major reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – for free by visiting annualcreditreport.com. Accounts or activity that you don’t recognize could indicate identity theft. Visit IdentityTheft.gov to find out what to do.
- Monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts closelyfor charges you don’t recognize.
- Consider placing a credit freeze on your files, which makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. However, keep in mind that a credit freeze won’t prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts.
- If you decide against a credit freeze, consider placing a fraud alert on your files. This will warn creditors that you may be the victim of an identity theft and they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name really is you.
- File your taxes as soon as you have the information you need, and before a scammer can. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. Respond right away to letters from the IRS.
AutoPayPlus also has strong consumer protections in place. We are registered with the U.S. Department of Treasury’s FinCEN bureau that safeguards the nation’s financial system from criminal use, and we employ the most stringent money transmitter requirements at both federal and state levels. As a result, to-date we have transmitted approximately $2 billion safely and securely for our customers.
In addition, we provide our customers with access to a wealth of resources such as monthly VantageScore® 3.0 credit score with trending from TransUnion®, and credit monitoring and instant alerts from TransUnion® to help prevent identity theft. To learn more, visit AutoPayPlus.