Enlarge Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images Yesterday, the credit reporting agency Equifax revealed that the personal data of 143 million US consumers, as well as “limited personal information for certain UK and Canadian residents,” was exposed by an attack exploiting security flaws in the company’s website. Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, and some drivers license numbers were all exposed—information which could be used to pose as individuals to gain access to financial accounts, open new ones in their names, or file fraudulent tax returns. So what can affected consumers do? Unfortunately, as things stand, the burden is on you to protect yourself in the long term—and the credit reporting agencies stand to profit from it. Regardless of whether Equifax says your data has been exposed or not, you should enroll in the free TrustedID Premier credit protection service being offered by Equifax. Registering through the site will give you an enrollment date for the service, as Equifax is queuing up people to enroll to avoid overtaxing its systems. With that service, you get: A copy of your Equifax credit reports A year of credit monitoring across all three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). Internet scanning for your SSN to see if it pops up on websites. The ability to security freeze or unfreeze your Experian credit report for one year, free of charge. (We’ll talk more about this in Step 3.) You should get a copy of your credit reports from all three reporting agencies to…more detail
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