Last week Equifax had a credit breach that it believes could result in up to 143 million people affected—some 44% of the population.
It’s very possible your information has been exposed and, if you have not already, you should consider freezing your credit.
A credit freeze locks your credit file at each bureau with a special PIN that only you know. That PIN must be used in order for anyone to access your credit file or add new credit in your name.
This is not to be confused with credit monitoring. Credit monitoring is a services established to notify you when your open, or unfrozen, credit file has been accessed. At that point it's too late, which is why we recommend freezing your credit. Freezing your credit is the only way to stop the theft from occurring in the first place.
Contact all three of the credit bureaus individually and freeze your credit - this can be done online or over the phone.
You can freeze your credit by using the following phone numbers and links:
- Equifax: 866-349-5191 or https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/
- Experian: 888-397-3742 or https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html
- Transunion: 888-909-8872 or https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze/place-credit-freeze
If you need to access credit for a home or auto loan, for example, keep in mind that it may take a few days for the freeze to be lifted so request the freeze be lifted a few days in advance.
After you freeze your credit, we also suggest you obtain a copy of your credit report to see if there is any recent activity that would indicate someone has been attempting to open credit lines in your name. You can obtain a free copy of your credit report here: https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action. This is the only FTC authorized website for obtaining free credit reports (https://www.ftc.gov/faq/consumer-protection/get-my-free-credit-report).