The Equifax Data Breach Scared People — Just Not Enough to Do Anything About It
Everyone remembers the headlines from early September declaring that Equifax had been hacked, resulting in 143 million Americans (and, we just learned, 100,000 Canadians) having their sensitive information exposed. You'd think that news would have spurred us all into action — but turns out, we're not doing much of anything about it, according to a recent poll by research firm SSRS.
It's not because we're not scared of the fallout: 66% of those surveyed said they were very or somewhat concerned that their private details — which include names, addresses, and Social Security and driver's license numbers — could have been compromised. Yet only 19% have actually taken any steps to protect themselves.
Of those who did do something about it (and big ups to you if you were one of them):
36% placed a fraud alert on their credit. Putting a fraud alert in place means that companies need to verify your identity before they can issue you a line of credit. You can place a fraud alert with any of the big three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion), and they'll be required to notify the other two. The alert will stay on your credit report for 90 days, after which you can renew it.
28% enrolled in Equifax's credit-monitoring service. Equifax decided to make its TrustedID Premier service free for a year and gave consumers a timeline by which to enroll, but due to overwhelming demand there have been some delays in getting people into the service. (Plus, you may want to consider whether it's wise to use a service provided by the same company that was breached.)
21% placed a credit freeze. A credit freeze means nobody can access your credit report unless you "unfreeze" it temporarily with a PIN. Freezing and unfreezing your credit report, however, could require paying a small fee, depending on where you live.
20% purchased another credit-monitoring service. Other popular credit-monitoring services include LifeLock, EZ Shield and Identity Guard. These types of companies will help monitor your credit report and notify you of any suspicious activity, and may even help fix the problem if your identity is stolen.
If you haven't done any of the above — or even eyeballed your credit report and financial accounts for activity that seems out of the ordinary — it's not too late to take action.