Several people have asked what steps to take to protect themselves, particularly their electronic identity, in the wake of the Equifax hack. Here are some suggested steps that, while not guaranteed to provide protection, at least give you an idea of things I’m doing with some links to make it easier.
- Get a current credit report
When you request your credit report you will be offered an option to obtain your credit report from one, two, or all three credit bureaus; choose as many as are available to you.
- Get credit monitoring
I prefer LastPass’ free credit monitoring service (using TransUnion).
Use this link and I can get extra time on my paid LastPass account, too.
- Consider a credit freeze
If you don’t have things like car home purchase, or aren’t planning to get a loan, this is an option for you.
Credit Freeze Links/Numbers
This step will cost you a nominal amount per credit bureau unless you can prove you’ve been the victim of credit fraud
Credit report – A report that you are legally entitled to once per year. This report will show you everything on your credit report.
Credit monitoring – Some agency will monitor your credit report and any activity (e.g., a new credit card, an inquiry into your credit, etc) will result in an alert being sent to you via email, text, or some other means.
Credit freeze – Direction from you to a credit monitoring bureau (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion) that will cost you money.
This will not stop you from using a credit card you have today but it will stop any activity that requires someone to look at your credit history.
You can obtain a PIN that you can use to temporarily unlock the freeze but it requires you to authorize any time someone wants to use your credit history/credit score to make a decision about you. This can become tedious, like having to type in your password every time you log in to a computer or enter a PIN every time you want to withdraw money but it may be a reasonable step.
You must contact each of the three credit monitoring agencies and put a freeze on your credit with them to be sure this step will be effective.
Credit score – Very generally, this is a number, also known as a FICO score, that shows your relative creditworthiness. These scores have different branding names from each of the credit bureaus but they all currently rank creditworthiness on a scale from 300-850 points. Anything around 720 and above is generally considered good.