Equifax Inc., a national credit reporting bureau, has announced that a cybersecurity incident potentially compromised the personal identifying information of approximately 143 million U.S. consumers. The Equifax hack includes names, addresses, birth dates, and Social Security Numbers. The Florida Office of Financial Regulation encourages Floridians to act now to protect their personal identifying information and reduce their risk of identity theft.
Reduce your risk of identity theft by:
- Changing your passwords on all your accounts regularly.
- Checking your credit report at least annually with the three national credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion).
- Shredding or destroying all documents with personal identifying information when you are finished with them.
- Never verifying or giving personal identifying information over the phone or through email, especially if the contact was unsolicited.
- Request fraud alerts on your accounts and your credit report.
Keep the “Three C’s” in mind if you think you may be a victim of identity theft:
- Check: Watch for suspicious or unauthorized transactions on your financial, professional and personal accounts. Contact the sender immediately if financial statements or bills do not arrive on time.
- Contact: File a report with the Federal Trade Commission, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center and local law enforcement. Contact your financial institutions to alert them, and to replace your debit and credit cards. Request a freeze of your credit reports from the three national credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion).
- Collect: Collect all evidence that you may have to support your claim. This could be cancelled checks, credit card receipts, unusual email messages, etc.
Equifax has established a website for consumers to find out if they may have been impacted by the data breach.
The Florida Office of Financial Regulation offers an online Consumer Knowledge Center, where Floridians can learn more about a variety of financial literacy topics, including how to protect themselves from identity theft.