In the recent hacking scandal at big-three credit bureau Equifax, cyber criminals have stolen 143 million credit records.
Now they have access to so much personal and confidential information. Information such as, full names, addresses, birth dates, social security numbers and even some drivers licenses and credit card numbers. Highly targeted spear phishing attacks, and even full blown identity theft give consumers plenty to worry about. The records will sell on the dark web to organized crime for premium prices. Phishing attacks may be coming soon, and email is one of the most effective tools criminals use.
At this point, assume the bad guys have highly personal information they can use to trick you. You need to watch out for the following things:
- Phishing emails that claim to be from Equifax. They tell you to click 'here' to see if your data was compromised.
- Phishing emails that claim there is a problem with a credit card, your credit record, or other personal financial information, and ask for you to take an action.
- Calls from scammers claiming to be from your bank or credit union asking for personal information.
- Fraudulent charges on any credit card.
Here are 5 things you can do to prevent identity theft:
- First, sign up for credit monitoring.
Equifax is offering one year of free credit monitoring, however, some state Attorney Generals believe it may opt you out of any class action suits down the road.
- Next freeze your credit files at the three major credit bureaus Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Also, remember that generally it is not possible to sign up for credit monitoring services after a freeze is in place. Advice for how to file a freeze is available here on a state-by-state basis: http://consumersunion.org/research/security-freeze/
- Check your credit reports via the free annualcreditreport.com
- Check your bank and credit card statements for any unauthorized activity
- If you believe you may have been the victim of identity theft, please visit this site to learn more about how to protect yourself: www.idtheftcenter.org. In addition, you can also call the center’s toll-free number (888-400-5530) for advice on how to resolve identify-theft issues. All of the center’s services are free.
Always ---Think Before You Click!