HOW TO: After the Data Breach: What to do
OK, so we all know about the Equifax data breach, now. Hackers got into the database at Equifax, and stole the personal identifier information for 143 million Americans. They got name, address, social security number, date of birth, and other information, including drivers license number.
But the real question is what do you do about it?
First – determine if you are in the group of Americans who’s information was stolen. OK, easy. There are approximately 300 million Americans. Take out the minors, and the elderly who do not have credit files, and that means . . . EVERYONE. Yes, you. No point in checking on the Equifax website, you were breached.
Second- DO NOT sign up for the credit monitoring offered by Equifax through their “Trusted partner”. Wait. What? “TRUSTED partner? We trust them to not do something bad after they just did something bad? OK. What if you still want to trust them? When you sign up, there is an arbitration clause. Why is that important? Because you cannot have a jury trial. You are at the mercy of an arbitrator, who is not a judge.
So, what do you do?
ORDER YOUR CREDIT FILES FROM THE CREDIT BUREAUS. You are entitled to a free copy every year. You can order on the phone, 877-322-8228, in writing, or on the internet. Whatever you do, KEEP A COPY. If you order on the phone or mail, they mail a hard copy to you. Put it in a file. If you order on the internet, download a copy of the file. KEEP IT. That is important information as time goes on, about what is there. Of course, you should read it now, to see what is there, and review for inaccurate information, because that shoud be something you should do every year, anyway.
REQUEST A 90 DAY FRAUD ALERT.
Follow up with a request for an EXTENDED Fraud Alert. Here is a link to the Equifax form. Here is the link to the Experian form. Here is the link to the TransUnion form. With each, you will need to send a number of documents, including proof of your social security number, and proof of your address, including your drivers license or certain other documents, including a copy of a police report, or other proof that your identity has been not just stolen, but used. I would think that with the breach, that a copy of the news report of the data breach would probably work, but I am not sure.
You can also do a security freeze. The Federal Trade Commission has done a nice job on Security Freeze, and you can read their explanation here. You can also request a security freeze in writing by writing to Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Please note that there is a fee for a security freeze, typically about $10, and there is a fee for unfreezing, again, typically about $10.
Jason M. Krumbein, Esq.
Krumbein Consumer Legal Services, Inc.
1650 Willow Lawn Drive, Suite 201
Richmond, VA 23230
804-592-0792 – voice
804-234-1159 – fax
JKrumbein <at> KrumbeinLaw <dot> com – email