Consumers concerned about how the Equifax Inc. data breach has compromised their personal information have been advised to go to a website set up by the credit-reporting company. The hitch: The site can be confusing to navigate and is asking probing questions of shaken consumers.
Still, experts say, it is important to persevere with the process as the breach, which may have affected as many as 143 million people, potentially exposed a passel of useful data to those looking to commit fraud. The data that may have been taken include names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some cases, driver’s license numbers.
Equifax didn’t return a phone call seeking comment.
Here’s a guide to using the Equifax website and call center to protect your finances:
Equifax’s Special Website
Go to www.equifaxsecurity2017.com and click on the “potential impact” button at the bottom of the main page to learn more about how to determine if your personal information was exposed. To do so, you’ll be required to provide your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number, a request that sparked internet memes.
Equifax is advising that regardless of whether a consumer’s information may have been affected, they have the option to sign up for credit-file monitoring and identity-theft protection for one year at no cost. The enrollment period for the offering ends Tuesday., Nov. 21.
The offering, called TrustedID Premier, includes credit monitoring of Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit reports; copies of Equifax credit reports; the ability to lock and unlock Equifax credit reports; identity theft insurance; and internet scanning for Social Security numbers, all of which is free to U.S. consumers for one year, it said.
Those who wish to sign up for the offering must return to faq.trustedidpremier.com, and go through the enrollment process on or after their enrollment date. (This reporter was given an enrollment date of Sept. 24. Equifax warned, “Please be sure to mark your calendar as you will not receive additional reminders.”)
One aspect of the TrustedID Premier offering that prompted many consumer complaints Friday was related to the ability to participate in litigation. The fine print at TrustedID Premier states that consumers waive the ability to bring or participate in a class-action suit, a class arbitration or other similar steps.
Kevin Mitnick, who spent time on the FBI's Most Wanted List for hacking 40 corporations, discusses his new book, “The Art of Invisibility," on Lunch Break with Tanya Rivero. He also explains why hackers breach data with relative ease, and why we should never link our devices. Photo: iStock (Originally published Feb. 24, 2017)
Credit Monitoring Offer
Those who are considering accepting the offer for free credit-file monitoring and identity-theft protection can’t do so until their enrollment date, but they can learn more about the process now by clicking on the “enroll” button at the bottom of the EquifaxSecurity2017 home page.
Those who do choose to enroll on or after their enrollment date will be asked to provide additional information to verify their identity, and will be required to provide a valid email address to complete the process. They will receive an email with a link to activate TrustedID Premier a few days after completing that process, Equifax says on its site.
Because the service includes credit monitoring by all three credit-report providers—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion—it will take several days to begin, Equifax says.
Frequently Asked Questions
After choosing “enroll” at the bottom of the main EquifaxSecurity2017 page, consumers may click on the “FAQs” link atop the page for a list of frequently asked questions. One useful link here is “What steps should I immediately take?” Equifax recommends here that consumers monitor their personal information and visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website, www.ftc.gov/idtheft, for more information about steps they can take to better protect against identity theft and about fraud alerts and security freezes.
Equifax also advises here that it anticipates high demand for enrollment in TrustedID Premier monitoring service, and that those who encounter enrollment problems online should try again.
The “consumer notice” tab on several of the EquifaxSecurity2017 pages offers resources and tips on identity-theft protection. Consumers may obtain a free copy of their credit reports from each of the major credit firms once every 12 months by requesting the reports at www.annualcreditreport.com, calling toll free at 877-322-8228 or mailing an annual credit report request form, available at www.annualcreditreport.com, to the Annual Credit Report Request Service, it advises.
Consumer protection experts advise that consumers considering freezing their credit reports with the three credit firms check their reports before making any moves.
Those who believe they’re victims of identity theft should contact law enforcement and consider contacting their state attorney general or the Federal Trade Commission, Equifax says. It provides information on how to contact states’ attorneys general.
Consumers with additional questions should call the dedicated call center Equifax has established at 866-447-7559. The call center is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. Eastern time.
Equifax is experiencing high call volumes and is working diligently to respond to all consumers, it says online. It recommends that consumers visit its website or call back after 5 p.m. Eastern time, when call volumes may be lower.
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