California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today reiterated his call for consumers to take action to protect their identities in light of the recent Equifax data breach, and provided links to do so online.
As Becerra and his team at the California Department of Justice continue to work with Equifax to get to the bottom of this unacceptable breach of consumers’ trust, he urges all Californians to heed the following guidance.
To find out if you have been impacted by the Equifax data breach, please visit https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/potential-impact/.
If using Wi-Fi, ensure a secure Wi-Fi connection before submitting personal information.
If you have been impacted, you can take the following steps to protect your personal information:
1. Put a fraud alert on your credit file.
A fraud alert helps protect you against the possibility of someone opening new credit accounts in your name. A fraud alert lasts 90 days and can be renewed.
To post a fraud alert on your credit file, you must contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies below. If you contact any one of the three major credit reporting agencies, fraud alerts will be automatically added by the other two agencies as well.
2. Review your credit reports. Look through each one carefully.
Check your credit reports from Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax — for free — by visiting annualcreditreport.com. Accounts or activity that you don’t recognize could indicate identity theft, especially accounts opened recently.
3. If you find items you don’t understand on your report, call the credit bureau at the number on the report.
Credit bureau staff will review your report with you. If the information can’t be explained, then you will need to call the creditors involved and report the crime to your local police or sheriff’s office. If you think that you have been a victim of identity theft, more information on next steps is available on our Identity Theft Victim Checklist: www.oag.ca.gov/idtheft/information-sheets.
4. Consider placing a “freeze” on your credit file.
A security freeze prevents your information from being shared with potential creditors and is the strongest form of protection. A freeze costs a one-time fee of $10 (but may cost additional fees to lift or renew). You need to request a security freeze from each of the three reporting agencies. Equifax has waived the $10 fee, but the other two companies, TransUnion and Experian, have not. The Attorney General’s Office does not have the authority to require the companies to waive their fees.
Experian’s credit freeze: https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html
TransUnion’s credit freeze: https://freeze.transunion.com/sf/securityFreeze/landingPage.jsp
Equifax’s credit freeze: https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp
Attorney General Becerra reminds all Californians to watch out for scams. Do not give anyone your personal information over the phone – nobody is calling to “verify” your account information – unless you have initiated the call and know the number is correct. Do not click on links in emails, as they may be phishing attempts, and be careful that you are on the correct, secured website when you are entering personal information online.