By now you’ve probably heard that Equifax was hacked and the personal data for approximately half the country has been compromised. Naturally, you should check to see if you were affected here. I’m proud to say that I’m potentially affected and scheduled to work with them on Wednesday – yay!
On Friday evening on the way home from work there was plenty of coverage about what to do and once commenter said that Equifax would only help out those with compromised data if they waived their right to sue and agreed to arbitrate any potential claims. I presumed that this was a measure to preclude any forthcoming class actions, which conceivably can put Equifax out of business. According to this piece in today’s Washington Post, Equifax has backtracked on the arbitration condition – relevant language below.
Initially, though, there was a catch — signing up would also commit you to binding arbitration with the credit monitor, which would mean giving up your right to sue. Several politicians and consumer groups have criticized this provision. Democrats in the House and Senate called on the company to pull back that requirement. Late Friday, Equifax said the arbitration language that appears on its website “will not apply to this cybersecurity incident.”
Good luck navigating your way through this fiasco.
The FTC suggests taking these steps to take to help protect yourself after a data breach:
- Check your credit reports from 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. check one credit report for free every four months at annualcreditreport.com.
- Consider placing a credit freeze on your files. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. Keep in mind that a credit freeze won’t prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts. [NYT recommends a permanent freeze] https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs
- Monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts closely for charges you don’t recognize.
- If you decide against a credit freeze, consider placing a fraud alert on your files. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and that they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name really is you.
- File your taxes early — as soon as you have the tax information you need, 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.
- Visit Identitytheft.gov/databreach to learn more about protecting yourself after a data breach.
In this piece the New York Times also suggested to use credit monitoring services that ping you every time there’s a change in your credit report
Hat tip – Roselle Wissler