What Happened with Equifax!?
Almost 40% of the US population may be at risk after the Equifax hack a few weeks ago. There was a website vulnerability that left access to confidential data open and accessible. Over 143 million customers had their data “compromised”. Yet, only 15 million people have visited their website to ask for help. As customers of the credit world, you have rights – and there are a few steps you can (and probably should) take. We will explain… it’s exhausting, we know.
Did Equifax do the right thing after this occured? Are they stepping up security? Are they hiring additional customer service agents to help with future complaints and corrections to your credit report? In basic terms, no. They apologized, and are providing free credit monitoring. This is the same response we have seen in the past from credit card companies and banks. After they step up their security measures on their end – they need to step up their customer service staffing. Numerous complaints have been filed that customers are unable to get a hold of anybody in customer service. That would explain why even though many people know about this hack, very few have attempted to get help.
Go to the Equifax website and see if your information was compromised. We want to explain the risks and benefits associated with doing these steps first – so we will put all of these links at the bottom of the article. The Equifax website will allow you to check to see if you “may” have been compromised. Click the link that says “Potential Impact” to open the correct page. If it comes back and says it’s possible, you likely were compromised. Now, remember – 143 million customer records is a LOT. Even for a hacker. So, just because someone had access to your information for TWO MONTHS (more on that below), doesn’t mean they are going to sell or use it. But, since it’s already been compromised – it’s better to be safe than sorry. No, not everybody gets a “yes” answer here. I know many people who’s data was not involved. So it’s good to check!
STEP TWO: You were compromised…
You have two choices here – “Enroll” in their free credit monitoring offer, or do your own credit monitoring. Free credit monitoring, seems like a no-brainer, right? There is always a catch. If you agree to join the free credit monitoring, you are barred from entering into a class action lawsuit against the company. These details are listed in very small print in that enormous agreement you check the little box for when you sign up. I’m not sure how much money you would get from a lawsuit containing this many complaints, so keep that in mind as well. If you decide to proceed, you will click on “Enroll” and you will be given a sign up date. So many people are signing up for this that their servers can’t handle the requests. So they will tell you when you can come back and finish the sign up process. Put a reminder in your phone, don’t forget to come back. I promise you they are counting on a portion of people forgetting. TrustedID is the monitoring company, and they are owned by Equifax – so although it might seem like you are giving away your information to another party who might irresponsibly lose it later – it’s the same irresponsible company. That sounded more comforting in my head…
You can also choose to monitor your credit once a year for free (link below). You can setup fraud alerts for free as well, but they are limited to a certain amount of days. Usually this is meant for people who know their identity was stolen and expect issues immediately. So I’m not sure it’s much help here, but it’s free and it’s your right. Links below.
STEP THREE: There is no step three.
That’s it. You’re done. There is very little more you can do at this point but to be alert to what is happening on your credit report. It’s frustrating, and you have every right to feel like this list should be longer.
Fun Facts About The Hack (…too soon?):
- They believe the website vulnerability created access to account files from mid May – end of July 2017
- This means that the hackers had access for more than two months!
- Equifax has hired a “leading independent security company” to help make sure this doesn’t happen again.
- “independent” is actually very important here. No large corporation should ever be responsible for security. I mean, look what happened to your credit report.
- Equifax makes money via four methods:
- Credit Reports
- Advanced Credit Reports (more detailed, more expensive for lenders)
- Marketing – They sell your data to banks for “pre-approved” scenarios
- drum roll please…. Consumer Services. Yes. Credit monitoring and counseling. Something terrible on your credit report? They can help you fix that. For a fee.
Equifax Potential Impact Link: Check to see if you were impacted and to sign up.
Free 90 day alerts from Equifax: Click for limited alerts
Free alerts from TransUnion: Click for limited alerts
Free alerts from Experian: Click for limited alerts
FREE annual credit report: Click for FTC information and your rights