Extra ways to protect yourself after the Equifax data breach

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Attorney General’s Office is providing updates and extra ways to protect yourself following the Equifax data breach.

The breach affects 5 million Ohioans. Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit reporting bureaus, says their system was compromised between May and July of this year and includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver’s license numbers.

The attorney general’s office provided the following updates concerning the breach:

Arbitration Clauses: Equifax has stated enrollment in “TrustedID Premier”– their product offered in response to the breach – will not subject an enrollee to mandatory arbitration. According to Equifax, the arbitration clauses originally included in the Terms of Use on the site www.equifaxsecurity2017.com have now been removed, and the Terms of Use on www.equifax.com do not apply to the TrustedID Premier product being offered to consumers as a result of the breach.

Waiver of Rights: Equifax has also stated that the Terms of Use do not create a waiver of class action rights. Specifically, Equifax states, “to be as clear as possible, we will not apply any arbitration clause or class action waiver against consumers for claims related to the free products offered in response to the cybersecurity incident or for claims related to the cybersecurity incident itself.”

Charge for Security Freeze: Equifax has agreed to waive fees for placing and removing security freezes through November 21, 2017. Additionally, consumers who paid for a security freeze starting at 5:00pm on September 7, 2017 will receive a refund. Note that you are still required to pay for security freezes through TransUnion and Experian should you choose to place a freeze there; to do this, you must contact TransUnion and Experian directly.

To learn more about the breach, including whether you were affected, visit Equifax’s website, HERE, or call 866-447-7559.

Other tips consumers should consider include, according to the attorney general:

Check your credit report. Monitoring your credit report can help you identify signs of potential identity theft. You are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com to access those reports. You can pull all three at once, or you can stagger pulling your reports throughout the year.

Place an initial fraud alert on your credit report. Contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies — Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion — to place an initial fraud alert, which will stay on your credit report for 90 days. The alert is free of charge and will make it more difficult for someone to open credit in your name.

Consider placing a security freeze on your credit report. A security freeze essentially puts a lock on your credit so that most third parties can’t access your report. This helps protect you from unauthorized accounts being opened in your name. In Ohio, security freezes are permanent until you lift them.

Beware of scams related to the breach. Con artists may pretend to have information about the breach or they may falsely claim to want to help you. Some calls or messages may be scams designed to steal your money or personal information. Don’t give out personal information to those who contact you unexpectedly (even if they say they want to help you) and be wary about clicking on links or downloading attachments in messages.

Monitor your bank accounts. Look for suspicious activity. If you find errors, immediately notify your bank or credit provider.

When it’s tax season, consider filing early. File your taxes as soon as you have all of the information necessary to file so that there is less of a chance for someone to fraudulently file on your behalf. This is especially important if you know your information has been compromised.

Read more about the data breach.