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Frequently asked questions about the Equifax data breach

Do you have a question about the Equifax data breach? Read below for answers to the questions the Attorney General's Office has received the most.

How do I know if I have been affected by the Equifax breach?

Equifax has created a website where you can find out if you have been affected by the breach. The website will ask you for the last six digits of your social security number and your last name, and then will tell you if you have been affected. You can also call 1-833-759-2982.

If you are concerned about providing your social security number to this website, remember that Equifax already has your full social security number, and the settlement administrators need to verify who you are. Double check to make sure you are on the correct website and make sure you are using a secure internet connection before entering your social security number. A secure website's web address should begin with "https."

I’m not sure if I was affected by the breach. What should I do?

You should assume that you are affected by the breach and take appropriate steps to protect yourself from identity theft.  For this breach, or any other data breach, you can visit IdentityTheft.gov for a step-by-step guide of how to protect yourself.

What is a credit freeze?

A credit freeze prevents a credit reporting agency from releasing your credit report to others. Placing a credit freeze with each of the three major agencies - Equifax, Transunion, and Experian - offers the most protection. Each freeze remains until you lift it and can affect your ability to get a new loan, apartment, or job. When you place a credit freeze, the credit reporting agency should provide you with a personal identification number or password that you will use to temporarily lift or remove a credit freeze. It is important you remember this number or password or put it in a safe place, because you may to give it to the agency if you want to lift the credit freeze.

Why should I place a credit freeze?

A credit freeze is perhaps the most effective way of stopping identity thieves from opening new accounts in your name.  This is different than credit monitoring, which can only alert you to activity occurring on your existing accounts.

Does it cost money to get the credit freeze?

No. As of September 21, 2018, Federal Law requires Equifax, Experian, and Transunion to place, lift, or remove a security freeze for you free of charge.

How do I place a credit freeze?

When might a credit freeze not make sense for me?

A credit freeze also stops businesses from checking your credit, so you may need to temporarily lift your credit freeze before:

  • Applying for any type of loan, mortgage, or credit card
  • Applying for insurance
  • Switching or starting a new utility service or phone line, including a cell phone
  • Applying for a job
  • Applying to rent an apartment.

What is the difference between a fraud alert and a credit freeze?

A fraud alert does not prevent businesses from requesting your credit report but requires them to take extra steps to verify your identity. It lasts for 90 days unless renewed. There is no charge to put a fraud alert on your credit report.

What is a credit lock?

“Credit locks” vary by credit reporting agency but are generally a private service that you may have to pay a recurring fee to use or that may be combined with other services like various paid credit monitoring services. You should read the terms of any service carefully before you sign up. Make sure you understand any charges, which may go up after a free or discounted trial period, and which often renew automatically.

How can I tell if my identity has been stolen?

You can obtain a copy of your credit report and look for accounts or activity that you do not recognize. You should also monitor your existing bank accounts and credit cards by promptly reviewing your statements for unauthorized activity, and promptly report anything you notice to your bank or credit card issuer. It is important to remember that your credit report will not necessarily tell you about fraud occurring on your existing accounts. Visit IdentityTheft.gov to find out what to do if you discover evidence of identity theft.

How do I get a copy of my credit report?

All U.S. consumers can now get six free Equifax credit reports per year through 2026 by visiting the Equifax website or by calling 1-866-349-5191. That’s in addition to the one free Equifax report (plus your Experian and TransUnion reports) you can get at AnnualCreditReport.com. Beware of other websites that use the offer of a “free” credit report to sign you up for paid services. Information on how to obtain your free credit reports can be found at the FTC’s website.

How can I keep Equifax from getting my data?

Equifax is one of three national credit bureaus. These companies collect information about your credit history, such as how many credit cards you have, how much money you owe, and how you pay your bills. Each company creates a credit report about you, and then sells this report to businesses who are deciding whether to give you credit. You cannot opt out of this data collection. However, you can review your credit report for free and freeze your credit.

Learn how to place a credit freeze.

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