A response from SMP on the recent Equifax security breach -
Credit bureaus consolidate lots of information about you that can be used to steal your identity, which can turn your life into a nightmare for a long time (average is 7 years).
Equifax, one of the 3 largest consumer credit bureaus in the US, was just hacked. Per their own statement, the data of 143 million individual US consumers is compromised. Equifax is offering free credit monitoring to all US consumers (but no compensation for any consequences of the breach on consumers’ lives). You must enroll before Tuesday, November 21, 2017 to get one year of their credit monitoring service. Be mindful that they have set up a date before which you may not enroll. To find out, go to their special website at https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com - be sure to read the FAQ.
Equifax allegedly discovered the breach on July 29 (unauthorized access may have started mid-May) and they only made it public on September 7.
At some point soon, your identity data will be sold for next to nothing (the going rate is about $0.02 per 10,000 records) to all takers and it is very likely that someone will try to use it, possibly to obtain credit cards, buy a car, file fraudulent tax returns or get loans in your name. Once that happens you will be held responsible for the balance of the accounts until you can prove that you were not the person responsible (that can be difficult and quite time-consuming). You will have to fight to defend your good name and...creditworthiness. Yes, that is absurd, but that’s what happens to millions in the US each year.
To protect yourself, we recommend that you do the following:
1. Contact Equifax, Experian and Transunion to put a credit freeze on your account.
2. Sign up for Equifax’s free credit report monitoring offer (they make it complicated to sign up and there is a deadline on November 21.
3. Actively monitor your future credit reports and keep an eye out for abnormal activity (new loans, credit cards, etc.).
This Wikipedia article is a good summary:
The Federal Trade Commission publishes facts & statistics about identity theft.
If you have any questions, please contact SMP.