As most of you know by now, the credit reporting agency Equifax was the victim of a massive hack recently. As a result, almost half of all Americans may have had their most sensitive information, including social security number, date of birth and home address, exposed for all the (criminal) world to see. If someone has this information, they can easily steal your identity, allowing them to open an unlimited amount of credit in your name, potentially leaving you exposed to a lifetime of misery. The only good news is that you can protect yourself from financial ruin.
If you haven’t already done so, I strongly suggest that you immediately contact the three main credit reporting agencies and request that they freeze your credit information. This will prevent anyone from accessing your personal information without your explicit consent. Depending on what state you live in, this process will either be free or cost you a modest fee. You should do this for every member of your family with a credit history, including your teenage children.
Here are the phone numbers to call. In order to put a freeze on the credit of multiple people, you will have to place multiple phone calls. So allot yourself sufficient time to call all three agencies as many times as necessary to protect the credit of every member of your family. And make sure you have the date of birth, social security number and home address for each person BEFORE you make the phone calls.
Equifax: 800-685-1111 (automated system only)
Experian: 888-397-3742 (automated system only)
Transunion: 800-916-8800 (human or automated system)