Equifax Hack: What You Need to Know & Do

What We Know

From mid-May through July, ~143 million Americans may have had their personal data compromised. Of these, ~209,000 had their credit cards numbers stolen, and ~182,000 had dispute documents stolen, which contain personally identifiable information.

Why It’s Important

Your credit score and credit reports are essential parts of your financial life.

  • They are frequently referenced by institutions to determine whether you qualify for a student loan, mortgage, auto loan, credit card, insurance, apartment rental, and even for when you are purchasing a cell phone.
  • Breaches can impact your credit profile for upwards of one year since some identification types (eg. Social Security Number) do not have an expiry date.
  • Stolen personal information such as Social Security, driver’s license, and credit card information can be misused to steal credit.
  • People who steal your Social Security Number can also misuse it to obtain a tax refund or find employment – this is called tax identity theft.

What You Can Do

  • Check Equifax to see if your data’s been potentially exposed.
  • Check your credit reports via annualcreditreport.com.
  • Monitor existing credit card & bank accounts for charges you don’t recognize.
  • Sign up for Equifax’s free credit monitoring service. Note that even though Equifax’s credit monitoring agreement states users waive their right to sue Equifax in future class action lawsuits by accepting the credit monitoring services, they later clarified that consumers can receive the free service and not give up their right to sue Equifax subsequently as a result of the data hack.
  • Report suspected identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission and obtain a recovery plan.
  • Stay vigilant about people contacting you asking you for your personal information – even if they claim they’re from Equifax. It’s also important to note that the IRS does not contact people over the phone asking for personal information.
  • File your taxes early to mitigate the effects of tax identity theft. Do it before someone else uses your identity to do so. A major warning sign for tax identity theft is if the IRS sends you a deficiency notice stating you didn’t pay enough taxes. It’s possible someone committed tax identity theft by using your Social Security Number to find employment.


Friedman, Z. (2017). What Millennials Need To Know About The Equifax Credit Breach. Retrieved September 15, 2017, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2017/09/14/equifax-credit-breach-millennial/

MarksJarvis, G. (2017). As the investigation into Equifax data breach grows, here’s what you need to do. Retrieved September 15, 2017, from http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-equifax-consumer-protection-0910-biz-20170908-story.html

Wasik, J. (2017). Equifax Hack: 4 Ways To Protect Yourself Now. Retrieved September 15, 2017, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnwasik/2017/09/13/equifax-hack-4-ways-to-protect-yourself-now/


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