The deadline to sign up for free credit monitoring is Wednesday, January 31, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra reminded all Californians today.
In September, Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit reporting agencies, announced it had suffered a massive data breach, which affected 145 million Americans and more than 15 million Californians.
According to Equifax, the breach lasted from mid-May through July and compromised names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers.
“The Equifax data breach left millions of Californians’ personal information vulnerable,” Becerra said. “While the California Department of Justice continues to aggressively investigate this massive cybersecurity incident, we urge all consumers – both those who were victims of the breach and those who were not – to take advantage of the free credit monitoring that is available to them.”
To enroll in free credit monitoring, Californians should visit https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/.
“Anyone who experiences trouble signing up is encouraged to immediately file a report with my office,” Becerra said.
As required by California law, consumers who were impacted by the Equifax breach are eligible for free credit monitoring.
Equifax is also offering this service free of charge to consumers who were not impacted by the data breach.
The free credit monitoring product is a one-year subscription that includes credit file monitoring and alerts that report any suspicious activity on your credit report at all three credit bureaus.
It also includes Social Security number monitoring, identity theft insurance, a copy of your Equifax credit report, and a free service to lock your credit report at Equifax.
Consumers are also encouraged to take the following steps to protect their personal information:
1. 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
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
See the Identity Theft Victim Checklist: www.oag.ca.gov/idtheft/information-sheets.