Don't Think That Identity Theft Will Happen to You?
There are few places you don't want to see a cyber security breach occur. At the top of that list would be a credit reporting agency. There are three and they hold all of your information. Well, it was announced on Thursday that credit reporting agency Equifax had a cyber security breach.
It potentially affects 143,000,000 (yes millions) of people. The reporting in the media does not say that social security numbers were taken. However, it makes you wonder what thief would go through the trouble to hack into a system that rich in personal information and not come away social security numbers.
The U.S. Census Bureau says the population in the U.S. is 326,002,602 people. That is roughly 43% of the population that could be affected. What are your odds now? It is not if you become a victim of identity theft, it is a matter of when. Of course, that includes everything from unauthorized charges on a credit card all of the way up to actually stealing one's identity.
So, what if you get the letter in the mail notifying you that you were affected by this breach? Well, Equifax says that they will give free credit monitoring. CREDIT MONITORING IS ONLY GOOD IF IT COVERS ALL 3 CREDIT REPORTING AGENCIES. CREDITORS DON'T OFTEN CHECK ALL THREE.
Although free is good, it is only 1/3rd of the protection that you need. Get a services that monitors all 3 credit reporting services. If they provide coverage for all three or you decide you are just going to use the one service, make sure you make a note of when the coverage period ends. I have always thought that the identity thieves hold off using data until after the coverage period is over. Once it is over, you will want to continue coverage.
The ultimate protection would be freezing your credit report. That way no one can get into your credit file. The only downside is that you have to unfreeze your account anytime you use credit.
The bottom line is to take action. Those numbers say that we are all at an increase risk.