SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - It's being called the worst hack of personal data in U.S. History. In this week's "Don't be a Victim" report, we look at what you need to do now to protect your credit in the wake of the Equifax breach. Hopefully, you have visited https://www.equifax.com/personal/ to see if you are impacted.
Hackers now have their hands on the personal info of an estimated 143 million Americans, including names, social security numbers, birth dates, possibly even driver's license information. Even if you are not on the list, many security experts are saying it's best to be on the safe side.
"Freeze your credit. Make sure that you are periodically checking your credit report. Make sure that you are looking for things suspicious in your credit history," says Brandon McCrillis, CEO of Rendition Infosec, a cybersecurity company in Augusta.
The most effective method is to freeze your credit. This will cost you money and inconvenience, but it will prevent anyone from establishing new credit accounts in your name. It does cost a small fee generally to do this. You will need to call or go online to do so.
If you don't want to freeze your credit, you can place a 90-day fraud alert. This tells potential creditors to verify your identity before issuing credit in your name. You can monitor your own credit. If you haven't assessed credit reports in the past year, do so now. Stay vigilant by checking credit card statements or signing up for alerts about credit transactions. Here's more helpful information about the steps you can take from Georgia's Own Credit Union.
Another thing to remember is that Equifax will not call you about this, so be on the lookout for scammers who are already trying to take advantage.
"Consumers need to be extra vigilant when they get cold called or receive e-mails pertaining to being from related to this Equifax security breach. If someone is asking for your personal information, do not give it," warns Carrie Grube Lybarker with South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs. Get more information from their page here."
It's also important to remember that this risk is not going to go away. If someone has your personal information, they could still use it years down the line. It may be worth it to pay an identity theft monitoring service that you can trust.
Click here for more important information about the breach.