Like most of the 140+million US citizens I was distressed to find that much of my most confidential information was exposed because of the hack of Equifax.
My wife and I thought about what action we wanted to take to protect our credit. My thinking is that you can't be too careful with your private information. It's like containing a wildfire, once it's out of control.
Once we evaluated our options we decided on the taking the following actions:
1. We froze our credit at the three major credit bureaus. Note that Experian and TransUnion charge a fee in California.
Equifax: Call 800-685-1111 or go online
Experian: Call 888‑397‑3742 or go online
TransUnion: Call 888-909-8872 or go online
2. We placed a fraud alert on TransUnion's site. Fraud alerts can be placed on any of the three sites and they will all be notified. I decided to place the alert on TransUnion because I had to create an account on TransUnion and it made the process easier.
Arguments for and against the above actions can be found at the following sites:
Consumer Reports also offered additional thoughts about what Equifax should do:
Consumers Union Responds to Equifax
3. Lastly, we are in the process of having our credit card companies provide new credit cards, with new numbers. In addition to exposing Social Security numbers and other confidential information, Equifax also discovered that over 200,000 credit card numbers were exposed.
I know this seems like three drastic steps, and you really should read all the articles at the above links, but I don't think you can do too much to protect your finances. It's now become very easy for a crook to steal your identity and ruin your financial life.
Some of these steps will surely make our financial situation a bit more complicated, including the fact that I now have to unlock our credit reports if I need to borrow money, sign up for a credit card or even get a new cell phone account, but to me it's worth it. As they say, "It's too late to shut the stable door after the horse has bolted."
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