You've probably heard by now about the Equifax data breach. Equifax is one of three major credit reporting agencies in the country. Every time someone runs a credit check on you, they are very likely looking at information Equifax has compiled about you. This company holds an immense amount of data on hundreds of millions of Americans. 143 million people had their information stolen in a recent Equifax security breach. If you are one of these people, this could include your address, date of birth, banking information, social security number, and other sensitive information. To find out if Equifax thinks your information was stolen you can find out here. If your information is out there, it will likely be out there for a long time. Identity theft can follow people for years. However, there are things you can do to protect yourself.
The most drastic step is called a "credit freeze." This is when you have a security pin that you use to "freeze" and "unfreeze" your credit. You would have to unfreeze it every time you want to open up a new line of credit, which can be very cumbersome, time-consuming, and often is attached to a fee.
This option requires anyone who wants to open up a line of credit for you to contact you via the method you indicate. For example, if someone takes your name, date of birth, and social security number to CapitalOne and tries to get a credit card, you could require CapitalOne to call your cell phone and confirm that you are actually the one trying to open up a line of credit. When you file a fraud alert you can also get a free credit report to see if there is has been any fraudulent activity. This option is free, but only lasts for 90 days. However, if you have evidence that someone has already committed fraud using your identity then you can get an extended fraud alert which lasts for 7 years.
Eli Marchbanks is Navigate Law Group's consumer protection lawyer. If you want more information on either of these options, or need assistance going through the process, he can be reached by phone at (360) 205-2256 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every legal issue is very unique. Accordingly, the information in this blog is intended as general education material and not as legal advice. If you think you may have a legal issue you should consult an attorney.
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