Equifax Credit Hacked, What Can Happen to You?
The days of simply keeping your social security card, bank information, checkbook, and ID in a safe place are long gone. With the rise of the information age and the endless use of the Internet for all of our sensitive personal information, our security has never been at higher risk.
Recently, the major credit-reporting agency Equifax announced the successful hack of roughly 143 million customers, roughly half the country’s population. For anyone hoping to purchase a home at some point in the future, this could cause devastating effects.
Hackers were able to collect Equifax clients’ names, birthdays, social security numbers, drivers’ license numbers, and addresses. Credit card information was also exposed for over 200,000 customers. To say this is a tragic hack would be considered an understatement.
The information collected is exactly what banks require to open up bank accounts and lines of credit. Identity theft could be set to skyrocket. Hackers now will have the ability to print out fake ID’s using real people, social security checks could be swiped, and people can even be prevented from getting the prescription drugs that they may need!
It can take years of stressful court appearances, phone calls, and sleepless nights to get one’s identity restored. In the meantime, your credit will be nearly impossible to use. A potential home purchase will end up with a denied mortgage, that brand new car will remain out of reach because you have no access to credit, and you can kiss that new iPhone goodbye! Passing a credit check will become a major hurdle.
And so, what can someone do in this nervy time? One option is to freeze your credit or social security number, and only unfreeze it when you’re ready to run a credit check. You’ll often have to pay fees for this option to the various credit monitoring companies (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experiean), but you’ll at least be able to rest easy. This won’t stop your current credit score or your increases prior to the freeze.
Another tip is to never make online purchases with your debit card, which is attached directly to your bank account funds. Use a credit card instead, which provides another layer of security and legal benefits when disputing charges. Additionally, parents should automatically freeze their children’s credit ratings so that they will be safe until adulthood.
Also, make regular reviews of your financial accounts to see if there’s any unusual activity or fraud. The faster you can discover a hack, the better equipped you’ll be to fight back, and the greater the odds you’ll have of limiting the damage. Make regular credit checks too to see if anyone has stolen your information. If your credit information is taken, be sure to alert the three major credit agencies to secure a fraud alert on your account. This free service will place added steps to securing your credit, which ultimately offers you more protection. Lastly, be sure to make regular changes to your passwords, and keep them unique to each site.
Anytime we hear of major account hacks to millions of user data at major companies, it is very distressing. Identity theft has become a major concern for people all over the world, and with the recent hack of Equifax, it’s hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel. However, if you make sure to pay close attention to your finances and use smart methods in dealing with your credit, you’ll be well placed to handle whatever obstacle comes your direction and at least be well equipped to recover stolen funds and credit.