Have you ever applied for a car loan, credit card, lease or mortgage? You may be among the 143 million Americans whose private data was exposed during a recent breach at Equifax – one of our nation’s top three credit reporting agencies. It’s outrageous that Equifax waited more than a month to inform consumers about this hack. And it’s unconscionable that some executives used that time to dump their Equifax stock, possibly violating insider trading laws.
The American people deserve answers. And I’m committed to getting them. That’s why I’m calling for hearings on the Equifax breach. In the meantime, I’ve assembled some steps to help protect yourself from identity theft and fraud.
What You Can Do:
Review your credit report. Once a year, you can get a credit report for free by visiting annualcreditreport.com. This will include information from all three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Consider a Credit Freeze. If you aren’t applying for any new loans, consider freezing your credit. This prevents fraudsters from applying for new accounts in your name – while preserving access for lenders you already use. To place a freeze on your credit, you must submit to all three bureaus:
- Equifax: 800-685-1111, or www.freeze.equifax.com
- Experian: 888-397-3742, orexperian.com/consumer/security_freeze.html
- TransUnion: 800-680-7289, or transunion.com/securityfreeze
Create a fraud alert. If you opt against a credit freeze, consider putting a fraud alert on file. This will warn creditors that your information was compromised, and require them to verify your identity before establishing any new accounts.Instructions are available here.
Consider a Credit Monitoring Service. There are services that can monitor your credit for suspicious activity - but watch out for hefty fees and trial periods. Check to see if any of your lenders offer free credit monitoring.
More information is available from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau here.
It’s unfortunate that millions of Americans are now at a greater risk for identity theft and fraud. I’ll keep you updated on my efforts to hold Equifax accountable for failing to safeguard our personal information.
Thank you for being proactive,
Senator Bob Menendez