The last post, I talked about cyber hacking, but this month let’s talk about when Equifax credit report data was hacked in 2017 when names, social security numbers, birth date, driver’s license and addresses were taken from millions of people (Smith 2017; Oliver, 2017). Smith (2017), knew of the breach that started in late May and ended in Early June 2017 but didn’t advise the public until 2017. In that gap from all affected consumers being hacked until public release, multiple people’s lives could have been ruined.
This breach means that when the data is sold in the black market or dark web, thieves can open lines of credit for the rest of your life. The only way to combat this is to freeze your credit from all three credit bureaus:
- To freeze your credit report with Experian, go here: https://www.experian.com/ncaconline/freeze
- To freeze your credit report with TransUnion, go here: https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze
- To freeze your credit report with Equifax, go here: https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInf
My journey in doing so means going to each of these sites and setting this up. When I wanted to pull my credit for housing, a new credit card, etc. I would have to unfreeze the account for less than a few days and refreeze it so that my credit can be checked. Unfortunately, this has become an inconvenience, as it can mean a delay in many major life situations, like getting a new job. However, this is a minor inconvenience as opposed to finding out you were hacked, proving your real identity, and recovering if you can your life.
The advice to freeze your credit report is one way to protect yourself. Another is to check your credit report. Every year you get 1 free credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies. Things that appear in one report may not appear in another, so it is key to routinely check all three credit reports. A link to do so can be found here:
or by phone:
- Smith, R. (2017). Rick Smith, Chairman and CEO of Equifax, on Cybersecurity Incident Involving Consumer Data. Equifax. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bh1gzJFVFLc
- Oliver, J. (2017). Equifax: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPjgRKW_Jmk