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Equifax Data Breach Disaster: Security Freezes and Other Actions Consumers Can Take

Amid widespread reports of Equifax’s staggeringly huge data breach announced late last week, wherein the detailed personal financial information for over 143 million Americans was stolen from Equifax, data safety and privacy advocates recommend that placing a security freeze on your credit reporting file is the single best action you can take to try to minimize the serious damage that the Equifax data breach may cause.

Most experts and government and financial advisors agree that a security freeze is the best protective action consumers can take. There are further measures available, however, and these are discussed below as well. Additional helpful information is also available from the National Consumer Law Center, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Consumers Union.

1. Security Freeze. Agencies and organizations, like the CFPB and NCLC among others, agree that an important precaution to protect yourself in the wake of this massive data breach is to place a separate credit freeze on each of your credit reporting files with Equifax, and Experian, TransUnion, and Innovis. The cost can vary, though it’s typically $10 per account. If you act within the next 30 days Equifax has stated that it will waive its $10 fee. (The freeze can be temporarily lifted if you need to rent an apartment, get a new credit card, or get a loan, etc.). In order for the credit freeze to be most effective, you will need to freeze your account with every one of these services.

To initiate a security freeze:

Click to initiate an Equifax security freeze  or call Equifax at 1 800 685-1111.
Click to initiate an Experian security freeze  or call Experian at 1 888 397-3742.
Click to initiate a TransUnion security freeze  or call 1 888 909-8872.
Click to initiate an Innovis security freeze or call Innovis at 1 800 540-2505.

2. Check your credit report — Everyone is entitled to one free credit report per year from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Especially given the potential long-term consequences of the vast Equifax breach, it is recommended that consumers re-check those reports every year to look for suspicious activity.

3. Consider setting up a fraud alert with one of the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. The alerts only last 90 days, however, and so are not as effective in the longer term.

Further resources and recommendations can be found by visiting NCLC, CFPB and the FTC, as well as at the following:

Identity Theft Resource Center: Full resource kit to help prevent id theft and assist victims.

Identity Theft Resource Center
3625 Ruffin Road #204
San Diego, CA 92123

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse: Hotline for consumers to report privacy abuses and request information on ways to protect their privacy.

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
3033 5th Avenue, Suite 223
San Diego, CA 92103
Telephone: (619) 298-3396

The information and links provided above are not an exhaustive list of resources. They are provided for informational purposes and do not constitute an endorsement of any websites or other sources. While the information presented is current as of this writing, readers should be aware that the relevant information is subject to ongoing updates. Lieff Cabraser is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. The provision of this information is not intended to and cannot create a legal relationship between readers and Lieff Cabraser.