How to check if your personal data was compromised at Equifax - ABC21: Your Weather Authority

How to check if your personal data was compromised at Equifax

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA 21) -

Your personal information most likely was compromised after a massive data breach at one of the big three credit bureaus.

While this might not be the largest breach in history, it has the potential to harm you the most.

"This could be potentially even worse than any other hack that we've seen," says computer security expert Kyle Johnson.

He says it's not only the scope of the breach at credit bureau Equifax, where hackers stole personal data for an estimated 143 million people, but the sensitivity of what they got their hands on that's staggering.

"They had Social Security numbers, phone numbers, email addresses, and in some cases, drivers license numbers. I mean, the sensitivity of what they got was amazing," he says.

Equifax says hackers exploited a vulnerability in its security from mid-May through July, when the company discovered the security breach.

And now it's anyone's guess how your information might be used.

“They can definitely steal identity, open accounts under your name, change things. I mean, if they got your full credit card information, your Social Security number, what's to stop them from changing accounts?" Johnson asks.

Through its dedicated website for customers to check whether their information was compromised, Equifax is offering the following things free for a year: credit monitoring at all three credit bureaus, identity theft protection and insurance, copies of your Equifax credit report and the ability to lock and unlock it, and internet scanning for your social security information.

You can also freeze your credit through the Indiana Attorney General's office for free, but realize that freezing your credit means you won't be able to get a car loan, mortgage, insurance or a new cell phone contract until you unfreeze it, which could take weeks.

Johnson says the best thing for you to do is take advantage of Equifax's free monitoring service and actively look through your bank and credit card statements.

"Pay attention to those, set up alerts. Most accounts that you have, credit cards, any sort of banking that you do will most likely give you text alerts if you make a purchase over a certain amount of money or something like that," he says.

And while it's a pain, he says you should also change all your passwords.

To find out whether your information may have been compromised, you can go to the company's website that's been set up for this, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, or you can call at 866-447-7559.

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