The extent of a massive data breach at Equifax is still unfolding, but a local financial advisor says you should not wait to check that your own information is safe.
After it was revealed that a third of Americans, 143 million people, were exposed to hackers this summer because Equifax failed to install a software upgrade, the credit bureau launched a website to help identify the victims.
Rhett Wood with Retirement Solutions LLC says, “Chances are you’re one of those people. Up to last week, only about 15 million people had actually done the steps required to find out if they’re one of those.”
Wood says the first step you should take, after finding out you are a victim, is checking your credit report. You get one free from each of the three bureaus annually, and you can see fake accounts opened in your name.
“One of the ideas there is to space it out throughout the year. Don’t ask for all three of them to send you one at once.”
Wood says you should also ask for an extended fraud alert at each of the bureaus, which will flag your information for seven years.
The third option is a credit freeze, although Wood does not recommend it if you are looking to buy a house or car, or open a new credit card.
His best advice for consumers, stay diligent.