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What to do about the Equifax Data Breach?

Posted by Clyde Hutchins | Sep 30, 2017 | 0 Comments

There is a good chance that your most sensitive data was stolen from Equifax. 143 million people had their data accessed by hackers. The breach occurred sometime in the May to July, 2017 time frame. For most people, the information accessed includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, and addresses. This is enough information to have your identity stolen.

You can check to see if your data was accessed. It seems that Equifax will not send you a written notice unless your credit card number was taken or if you had a dispute letter that was accessed. So it is a good idea to check directly with Equifax to see if you have been impacted.

It is not clear who stole the data. Maybe the data was stolen by hackers for kicks, and a possible ransom. Maybe it was stolen by criminals to sell on the black market. Maybe it was stolen by a state entity with adverse interests to the United States. We just don't know for sure. In any case, it is an alarming situation and one that should cause you to consider taking steps to protect yourself.

There are credit monitoring services available. I do not believe that those types of services are strong enough to protect you in today's internet environment because they do not prevent criminals from using your personal information. Instead, they alert you after the fact. If someone has indeed used your information, then you have to go through the expense and time of correcting your record.

A better solution is to freeze your credit. As I wrote about at the beginning of the year, a credit freeze provides much greater protection for you because no one can use your credit report unless you "thaw" it. It is free for Colorado residents and $30 for Wyoming residents (i.e. $10 per major credit bureau.). To freeze your credit, contact each of the three credit bureaus:

Equifax

Experian

TransUnion

If someone has stolen your identity or otherwise used your personal information wrongfully, please feel free to contact Harmony Law for assistance.

About the Author

Clyde Hutchins

Clyde Hutchins is the founder of Harmony Law. Prior to opening Harmony Law, Mr. Hutchins worked in the Wyoming Attorney General's Office for several years where he developed a strong consumer protection enforcement unit. In that position he led over 120 investigations and enforcement actions under the Consumer Protection Act. He worked on numerous joint cases with the Federal Trade Commission and other states, including Colorado, on consumer protection matters. Mr. Hutchins is also a contributing author to Consumer Protection Law Developments, Second Edition. Previous to his work in the Attorney General's Office, Mr. Hutchins was in private practice in Anchorage, Alaska where he was the chief litigator for a firm. Mr. Hutchins represented municipalities on various matters. Mr. Hutchins provided counsel to businesses and investment advisors regarding compliance with securities laws. He was also a bond lawyer and worked on municipal financing matters. Prior to that, Mr. Hutchins practiced civil litigation with a law firm in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Mr. Hutchins devotes his spare time to his family, traveling and enjoying the great outdoors.

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Harmony Law is one of the few law firms in Colorado and Wyoming that focuses on consumer law. Mr. Hutchins is a member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates and state chair for Wyoming. If you have a consumer law issue, please feel free to call 970-488-1857 and speak with Mr. Hutchins.

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