Equifax hack – 5 things to do right now

EquiFax was hacked and all the information in your credit report could be being sold right now on the Deep Web’s black market.

This is bad for everyone, but it’s especially bad for business owners.  Imagine someone opening a new business account somewhere and using your credit to get a 100k business LOC.  They run it up, and walk away leaving the debt on your report.  This is serious stuff folks and you need to take action now and get help from professionals.

According to CNN

“The names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver’s license numbers for 143 million people may have been accessed. That kind of information could be used by someone else to open bank accounts, credit cards and loans in your name.

The credit card numbers of an additional 209,000 people were also accessed. Those people will be notified directly. Everyone else must go to a website created by Equifax and submit their last name and last six digits of their Social Security number to find out if they were affected.”

If you think your information has landed in the hands of hackers, here are five things you can do right now:

  1. Check your free credit reports

  2. Put a fraud alert on your credit

  3. Keep an eye on bank accounts and credit card statements

  4. Sign up for a credit monitoring or identity theft protection service

  5. If you’re really worried, put a freeze on your credit

Check your free credit reports

Under federal law you are allowed to request a free copy of your credit report once a year from each of the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can request a copy of your credit report online at www.annualcreditreport.com.

You should note though, this will only show you what is currently on your report.  Some crimes might not show up at the time you checked.  I suggest you check at least monthly.

Put a fraud alert on your credit

You can put a fraud alert on your credit reports for free by contacting one of the credit agencies, which is required to notify the other two. This means you’ll be contacted if someone tries to apply for credit in your name.

It will last for 90 days and can be renewed.

Keep an eye on bank accounts and credit card statements

Go through all your bank, retirement, and brokerage accounts, as well as your credit card statements to look for any suspicious activity.

The way the bad guys normally take money from accounts is to start small and then pull more and more.  Keeping an eye out for those random small charges is going to be your best bet for knowing something shady is going on.

I’m very bad about this and hired my CPA’s book keeping service to track all my books and have asked them to monitor for the kind of data that shows the trend beginning.

Sign up for a credit monitoring or identity theft protection service

Monitoring services usually alert you when a company checks your credit history, a new loan or credit card is opened in your name, a creditor says a payment is late, or if public records show you’ve filed for bankruptcy, according to the FTC.

These services won’t prevent fraud from happening. But some do offer identity recovery services to help you regain control of your finances after identity theft occurs. The government offers a free resource for recovering from identity theft at IdentityTheft.gov.


If you’re really worried, put a freeze on your credit

A freeze blocks anyone from accessing your credit reports without your permission. But it can be an inconvenience for you, too. If you want to take out a loan or open a new credit card, you’ll have to contact the reporting agency to temporarily lift the freeze. It’s also not free. Fees to freeze your account vary by state, but commonly range from $5 to $10.

Adam Anderson

Adam Anderson is the author of Built to Survive: A Business Person's Guide on How to Recover and Thrive After a Cyber Attack. Adam’s 15 years of entrepreneurial startup experience and his knowledge Enterprise Cyber Defense gives him a window into what’s wrong with communication between large and small companies. He combined this knowledge and the good works from the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Cyber Security Framework to co-author the book “Small Business Cyber Security”. This book was later turned into an online class by Clemson University. Adam has been active in peer advisory boards for small business CEOs. He took this experience and co-founded a peer advisory board for Chief Security Officers of fortune 500 companies. This mix of small and large businesses has positioned Adam as one of the few people in the world to understand the complete supply chain of cyber security.
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