In 2017, hackers accessed 143 million+ American consumers’ personal information via Equifax, one of America’s three primary credit reporting agencies. The data leaked included names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver’s license numbers.
Our Recommendation: Next Steps
(1) Determine if your information was exposed at www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. From this site, click on the “Potential Impact” tab. You can then sign up for free credit monitoring.
(2) Check your credit reports periodically at www.annualcreditreport.com. Add a “Credit Freeze” or “Fraud Alert” to your credit file by calling Equifax (800-349-9960), Experian (888-397-3742) and TransUnion (888-909-8872). A fraud alert allows creditors to get a copy of your credit report only if they take steps to verify your identity. If you are very worried, you can choose to place a “credit freeze” on your account; however, be aware that a credit freeze will lock your credit and may impair your ability to get credit if you need access to money quickly, such as when an emergency arises. A fraud alert will still allow you to obtain credit, but potential creditors will ask for additional verification of your identity.
(3) File your tax returns early. Filing early is your best defense against tax-related identity theft. Submit your tax return as early as possible, before identity thieves have a chance to file a phony tax return and claim a refund using your information. Be prepared to include the details from your driver’s license to help state tax authorities verify your identity. Many states already encourage you to include your driver’s license number, issue date and expiration date with your electronically-filed tax return; a few states even require it. Providing those details can help the tax authorities process your return more quickly than will be possible without that extra information.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Luci Weigel.