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The Equifax breach: were you affected?

Odds are, your personal data was stolen in 2017’s massive exposure: 147 million Americans’ information was compromised. 

To find out if you were one of them, check here:

If you were affected, you can file a claim here: Print and save a copy of the confirmation.

You have three claim options:

  1. If you’ve dealt with actual losses stemming from this breach, you can claim compensation for the time and money lost.

  2. If your data was compromised but, luckily, your identity has not been stolen, you can either sign up for 10 years of credit monitoring, or

  3. Take a $125 cash payment and set up credit monitoring on your own.

For most people, who were affected but have not experienced a loss due to the breach, the $125 cash option, with a plan to establish a monitoring system, is the best choice. I can assist with weighing the credit monitoring options.

But what else should you do? You may have heard of credit freezes and credit locks. What’s the difference?

A credit freeze blocks access to your credit report, and a potential creditor can’t see it until you unfreeze it, which can only be done with a PIN established when the freeze is placed. If a creditor can’t see your credit report to give you a new account, they also won’t open an account for someone who has stolen your identity. Freezes are free and covered by federal law, and each credit bureau is required to offer them: here’s where to freeze your credit at Equifax, Experian, Innovis, and TransUnion. Remember, if you are applying for new credit (an auto loan or mortgage, a home equity loan, or a new credit card) you will have to lift the freeze beforehand. You can still access your own credit report even if it’s frozen.

A good idea: freeze your minor children’s credit reports too! Kids don’t need credit! 

A credit lock is easier to use than a freeze, because you can unlock and relock it yourself immediately without a PIN. But the protection isn’t as good (there’s no guarantee about what the bureaus need to provide with a lock, and they’re not all the same) and there’s usually a fee.


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