Equifax breach: Why it’s more important now
The Equifax breach hit headlines in early September and took consumers by storm as the credit reporting company revealed a breach leaving as many as 143 million personal details of U.S. consumers compromised by hackers. This is one of the largest breaches of personal information on record, and concerns private information including Social Security numbers, birthdays and credit scores.
The 143 million people affected equates to roughly half of the U.S. population. Without retirees and minors in that group, that subjects a majority of working individuals who have filed a tax return to a security breach. Since months have passed and this is no longer a breaking news item, we want to remind our readers and clients that they are still subject to threats in the coming months and years. So what are a few ways to protect yourself for the long term before any continued fallout occurs?
Watch credit closely
Keep an eye on your credit and bank statements. In the wake of this breach, it’s particularly crucial to be vigilant of your documents. If someone uses your information for fraud it can be detrimental to your credit and financial well being in the future. To protect from fraud you can put a freeze on your credit so no loans or credit cards can be issued using your history unless you lift the freeze. If you’re in need of a new line of credit, you can call credit agencies to reactivate. In addition, you may want to look into credit assistance with identity theft protection. These have a cost but can be invaluable if your information is compromised.
Prep for the tax season
In the short term, be prepared for tax season. Make sure you have all necessary documents together and file your taxes as soon as possible after receiving documents from your employer, investment statements, etc. By filing right away, you can secure your tax return and make sure someone else doesn’t file using your information fraudulently.
It may be easy to forget about the Equifax breach in the weeks and months after the event, but monitoring information is an ever-important topic. Years down the line when you apply for a mortgage, a new credit card or other type of loan, you don’t want to find out your credit history has been compromised from past fraudulent activity. Stay ahead of the potential security threat to keep your information safe.