If you are not familiar with Equifax, it is a consumer credit reporting agency, which collects personal information for reporting services. Recently, Equifax announced a breach that may have affected millions of people. The affects of this breach may result in identity theft, fraudulent transactions, complications when applying for loans or jobs, and much more. However, there are ways to keep you safe and protected in order to avoid and prevent possible impacts.

The breach occurred from mid-May through July 2017 and may have affected more than143 million people in the United States. Personal information that was accessed without authorization which caused the breach included

·       Names

·       Social Security Numbers

·       Birth Dates

·       Addresses

·       Driver’s License Numbers

With this breach, credit card numbers for 209,000 consumer and dispute documents with personal information for 182,000 consumers were also affected. To assist consumers in protecting their sensitive, personal information, Equifax created a website where consumers can see if they were impacted by the breach. The only information you need to complete this process is your last name and the last six digits of your social security number. Once you submit this information, you will receive a message indicating whether or not your personal information may have been impacted.

Below are a few basic tips to help you protect yourself against your personal information being used fraudulently:

·       Don’t respond to email, text or telephone calls asking for personal or financial information

·       Frequently review account activity and immediately report unauthorized transactions

·       Place an initial fraud alert with credit bureaus if fraud has occurred

·       Enroll and opt-in for transaction monitoring

·       Use card on/off switches (if available)

·       Enroll in Verified by VISA/MasterCard Secure Code

Due to the fact that such a large number of people are victims of this breach, Equifax is notifying these consumers whose credit cards may have been affected via postal mail. Be wary of any emails that come from Equifax since they are not using email to notify consumers.

In an effort to protect your accounts, we recommend that you put a password on your allU.S. accounts that will need to be provided for every call/transaction. It is also important for you to update phone numbers and addresses on your accounts whenever necessary in the event that we need to contact you. Here are some resources that may be helpful if you are unsure if you have been impacted by the breach:

Check all of your accounts today and take the proper precautions necessary to keep your information safe or to keep your information from being used any further.  If you have any further questions please contact your member services representative at the allU.S. branch.