As many as 143 million people in the U.S. were affected by the recent Equifax data breach between mid-May and July.
On Sept. 7, one of the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, publically reported being hacked this Spring. Unknown hackers gained access to personal information such as names, social security numbers, birthdates, addresses, credit card numbers and the numbers of some driver’s licenses.
If you have a credit card, student loans, or even have a parking ticket that you never paid, it is more than likely that the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, have your information.
Anybody can find out whether they have been affected by the breach by visiting Equifax’s
website and clicking on “Am I impacted?”
The identity theft protection service, Identity Guard, recommends that students open credit cards with reliable and secure banks, leave sensitive paperwork at home, avoid posting too much personal information to social media, use verified apps for online purchases and never give payment over the phone.
After learning about the recent Equifax security breach, junior Business Administration major Connor Barrett said, “It is necessary for students to monitor their credit card and bank accounts closely.”
As young adults, most of us are new to the credit card life, and mistakes can easily be made by putting our information into sketchy sites,” Barrett said. “Make sure to keep track of statements and bank accounts so that if you see an unknown charge, you can call the bank and get it fixed as soon as possible, and possibly save yourself from identity theft.”
The four best identity theft protection services for students are Identity Guard, LifeLock, ProtectMyID, and IdentityForce, review.com reports.
According to the Federal Trade Commission and Identity Thefts, if your identity was stolen, you should call the companies where you know the fraud occurred and dispute the charges right away.
You should also get your credit report and place a fraud alert by contacting one of the three credit bureaus, and the one you contact will then contact the other two. Once there is a fraud alert you will receive a letter from all three credit bureaus confirming the fraud alert. That will make it difficult to place charges in your name.
You should also report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at identitytheft.gov. They will help you create a recovery plan.
The numbers for the three major credit bureaus: