Credit agency Equifax announced on Sept 7 that it suffered a data breach affecting 143 million U.S. consumers.
The hack exposed names, Social Security numbers, addresses, birth dates, and driver’s license numbers—all critical pieces of information used by identity thieves to impersonate people and conduct fraud.
This is probably the most consequential data breach in history, considering that nearly all U.S. adults have their credit histories on file with Equifax and the other two credit bureaus, Experian and Transunion.
Was I Affected?
You can see if you were a victim of Equifax’s hack by visiting https://trustedidpremier.com/eligibility/eligibility.html and entering your last name and last six digits of your Social Security number. You can also wait to receive a letter from Equifax.
Regardless of whether you were a victim in this hacking or not, it is worthwhile to consider placing a freeze your credit. Given the sheer volume of breaches in the past few years, it is likely your information has already been exposed. Freezing your credit will give you peace of mind and is a crucial step in protecting your identity from hackers.
Freeze Your Credit
A security freeze, also called a credit freeze, locks your credit file at each bureau with a special PIN that only you know. That PIN must be used to gain access to your credit file, or to add new credit in your name.
Placing a security freeze gives you complete control of your credit file. Unlike credit monitoring or fraud alerts, a security freeze stops an identity theft from happening rather than alerting you to potential fraud after it has happened.
Here’s what you need to do immediately to safeguard your information.
How to Freeze Your Credit
To set up a security freeze you must contact all three of the credit bureaus individually. This process can be done online or over the phone. You will be asked some questions to confirm your identity but it only takes a few minutes.
You can freeze your credit by using the following phone numbers and links:
- Equifax: 866-349-5191
Freeze your credit
- Experian: 888-397-3742
Freeze your credit
- Transunion: 888-909-8872
Freeze your credit
To lift your freeze, for example in the case of applying for a loan, simply contact the bureau used by the lender and provide your PIN to lift the freeze for a designated time. This can be done online or over the phone. It may take a few days for the freeze to be lifted so be sure to do it a few days in advance of applying for a new loan.
About Kastler Financial Planning
Our core purpose is to improve the financial life for each and every client we serve. We believe that people of all income levels should have access to affordable and professional financial planning and investment management services, without the pressure or bias of product sales and commissions. Always acting as a fiduciary, the only fee we receive is the fee paid by the client. We put your best interest before our own. No product sales, no commissions, and no account minimums.
We specialize in family planning, families with Special Needs Planning, Retirement Planning, Retirement Tax Planning, and Small Business Retirement Plan Consulting. Our services are analytical and will be appreciated by the engineering and technical-minded individuals. We also use “bubble up” reports for the not-so-technically minded.
Our services can be performed either as hourly, a one-time fee-only project, or as On-Going Financial Planning, depending on your needs. Compare our fee-only services. Our suite of services also include Investment Management Services with the options of % AUM or flat-fee portfolio management.
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