It’s been several weeks since the massive Equifax data breach became public knowledge. While there are still more questions than answers, lots of factors have been clarified. Here are some of the most common questions answered so far.
Is Equifax being held accountable?
It most certainly is! To date, the credit bureau has been marked in more than 50 class-action lawsuits. It is also under investigation by the US Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice and at least 33 state attorneys general. Both houses of Congress are requesting information, and Equifax’s former CEO (he resigned once the breach was announced) has been testifying on Capitol Hill.
What is Equifax doing about the data breach?
The credit bureau’s reaction to the data breach has hardly calmed victims down. Though it has since changed course, Equifax initially charged people requesting credit freezes on their accounts following the breach.
Also, Equifax set up an insecure website to help people determine if they were affected. Making matters worse, the company’s Twitter account was unwittingly directing people to a fake phishing site instead of the legitimate web address for the site it created. And again on Thursday of this week, its site was hacked again redirecting users to a fake Flash update.
Though all fraudulent sites have since been taken down, Equifax has been condemned for using a domain that is so easy to impersonate and for directing people to the fake site.
Equifax is offering free credit monitoring for one year. But identity theft is forever.
What should you do now?
If you haven’t already done so, take steps toward data loss prevention.
- Visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.com to determine if you’ve been targeted.
- Place a credit freeze on your accounts to prevent criminals from taking out a loan in your name.
- Request and review a credit report from the three credit bureaus every few months and dispute any suspicious activity immediately.
You can also sign up for Equifax’s credit monitoring service, but remember that if you’ve been targeted, this move will only delay credit crimes for one year.
Are my Social Security benefits at risk?
Unfortunately, if you’ve been victimized, your Social Security benefits may be at risk. If you’re already receiving your monthly benefits, a criminal can redirect your payments toward a new checking account and keep your money. If you have not yet filed for Social Security, they may file on your account, and direct those benefits to their own address.
When you’re ready to file, you’ll find that you may have been receiving benefits for years! You will then need to prove that your identity was stolen and you haven’t received a penny from the Social Security Administration.
If you’re already receiving benefits, monitor your payments carefully. If you don’t get even one payment, report it immediately. Keep all your documents from the Social Security Administration so you can easily prove your identity, should the need arise.
If you haven’t yet filed for benefits, it’s equally important to preserve all related documents. If you’re victimized, you’ll have an easier time proving that you haven’t yet received your benefits.
Protecting yourself from financial and identity theft today requires many more resources than in the past. Stay informed and vigilant about this and other current fraud threats by visiting our website. We provide up-to-date information about fraud threats, tips for data loss prevention and identity theft prevention.