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 (AGO) has received the most.

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

You can go to www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. The website will ask you for the last six digits of your social security number (SSN) and your last name, and then will tell you if you have been affected.

Is it okay to give six digits of my SSN to the Equifax breach website?

It is understandable to be concerned about providing this information. However, Equifax already has your full social security number and needs 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 "https".

Equifax says that I may be 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.

Should I take advantage of free credit monitoring offered by Equifax?

You can. Equifax has indicated they will not apply any arbitration clause or class action waiver against consumers for claims related to the free products offered in response to this incident. This step, however, may not be enough. You should also consider placing a credit freeze with each of the major credit reporting agencies or taking additional steps to guard against identity theft.

What is a credit freeze?

A credit freeze prevents a credit reporting agency from releasing your credit report. 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 will you give you a PIN. It is important you remember this number, you will need 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.

It costs money to get the credit freezes. Will I get it back?

Equifax has said that it is waiving the fee for now but Experian and Transunion may still charge a $5 fee. The Attorney General’s Office has sued Equifax, but right now there is no guarantee you will get your money back.

When would a credit freeze not make sense for me?

A credit freeze also stops many legitimate businesses from accessing your credit. A credit freeze may create a delay or cause problems with any of the following:

  • Applying for any type of loan, mortgage, or credit card
  • Applying for insurance
  • Switching or starting a new utility, including a cell phone
  • Applying for a job
  • Renting 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 monthly fee to use, similar to various paid credit monitoring services. You should read the terms of any service carefully before you sign up. Make sure you understand the charges, which may go up after a free or discounted first month, 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. 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?

Check your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — for free — by visiting annualcreditreport.com. Beware of other websites that use the offer of a “free” credit report to sign you up for paid services.

I am having trouble getting through to Equifax, Experian and Transunion. What else can I do?

Unfortunately we have heard from many consumers experiencing this same problem. Check back with their website or phone numbers, at off peak times if possible. Potentially millions of Americans are contacting these agencies so their systems have been backed up. We realize this is extremely frustrating and are monitoring how these companies are responding to this unprecedented breach.

Feedback

Tell us what you think