What is the Equifax breach & what should I do about it?

You’ve likely heard of the recent Equifax Data Breach; below is an overview of what happened, along with recommended next steps to secure your information.

What happened?

Equifax, one of the major three US credit agencies, had it’s internal network compromised by criminal elements. As a result, the personal information of 140+ million consumers has been stolen. The latest information on the extent of the damage is, per Equifax’s alert website:

The incident potentially impacts personal information relating to 143 million U.S. consumers – primarily names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers.

In addition, credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 U.S. consumers, and certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers, were accessed.

Am I Affected?

If you’re an American adult who has a credit history, then it’s extremely likely that your information was compromised by this breach; it seems even some UK & Canadian residents have been affected. With information such as your name, birth date and social security number, bad actors can easily set up credit accounts in your name, making you the victim of identity theft.

Equifax has set up a website to advise whether you may be affected; you’ll need to provide your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number:


What Should I Do Now?

Consider a Credit Freeze

A credit freeze means no one will be able to inquire into your credit for any reason (e.g., opening new accounts, checking credit-worthiness, etc.). This makes it significantly harder for bad actors to open false accounts in your name.

Be aware that a credit freeze will impact your ability to obtain a loan, housing or other things for which a credit report is typically pulled! You can, however, lift (aka “thaw”) the freeze for a period of time, though there’s often a fee for this as well.

To place a freeze on your credit accounts, you will need to contact each of the three credit agencies separately; the credit agencies will assess a fee of ~$10 each (with the exception of Equifax, at the time of this writing) to effect this freeze, as well as any later “thaws” you may request. If one is actively a victim of identity theft (with police report available) or over 65 yrs of age, however, this fee should be waived.

1-800-685-1111 or 1-800-349-9960



How long does this credit freeze last?

Per the FTC’s website, “In a few states, credit freezes expire after seven years. In the vast majority of states, a freeze remains in place until you ask the credit reporting company to temporarily lift it or remove it altogether. A credit reporting company must lift a freeze no later than three business days after getting your request.”

Our initial research shows that the states which lift a freeze after 7 years are Kentucky, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and South Dakota.

Obtain your Credit Report

Obtain your baseline credit report via www.annualcreditreport.com. Eschew the other services (creditkarma, freecreditreport, etc) in favor of annualcreditreport.com, as this website is sponsored by the US government as a service to all residents, providing a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three major credit agencies.

Having a known, good copy of your credit report can be useful, in case any potential act of identity theft takes place.

Additional Steps

It’s always a good idea – especially so if you’ve been impacted – to monitor your accounts for any unusual activity.

You may also consider setting up a fraud alert, which require lenders to take additional steps to verify your identity before opening up a line of credit.

Additional Resources

An excellent rundown of the scope of this breach with recommended next steps may be found on this reddit thread; it’s worth taking a few minutes to read at least the first few bullet points to better understand what’s happened & how it may affect you. (direct link: http://bit.ly/2eU8Ey7)



  1. One thing to keep in mind when requesting your free credit reports. Each of the three credit reporting agency will validate you by asking a series of multiple choice questions about your past history. If you get any of these wrong you may lose the opportunity to obtain your report online.

    Some of the questions can be a little obscure (old addresses, old telephone numbers, previous roommates etc., past financial institutions you have dealt with, dates of opening or closing accounts), so be prepared!

  2. Before you do effect a freeze, it’s important to be aware of the consequences, per https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/02/should-you-put-a-security-freeze-on-the-credit-file/index.htm

    “A [credit] freeze also has drawbacks. While it’s in place, it prevents virtually everyone from accessing your credit files, even those you’ve authorized to do so (access still is permitted for companies with which you have existing relationships, such as your credit card issuers). That can create hassles, delays, and other problems if you need to apply for a loan, credit card, or a job; obtain insurance; rent an apartment; set up electric or phone service; and more. Most companies won’t extend credit until they check your credit file at one or all of the three major credit bureaus. And some employers won’t hire you without a credit check.”

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