I had lots on my To Do list this weekend. But it all took a backseat to Equifax.
Ten days ago, Equifax revealed that its files for 143 million people across the United States had been hacked.
In case you don’t know the name, Equifax is one of three major credit bureaus controlling the fate of anyone who wants to finance a car, obtain a mortgage, take out a loan or get a credit card.
Which means just about all of us. And an Equifax thumbs-up or down can be the difference between a prime interest rate and an outright rejection.
In deciding our fates, Equifax wants all kinds of information about us — names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, driver’s licenses and the like.
Which is precisely what was hacked. Which puts 143 million people (including, quite possibly, you and me) in serious danger of becoming victims of identity theft.
According to Equifax, the breach occurred between mid-May and July and was discovered July 29. But for reasons they haven’t explained, Equifax didn’t tell us until Sept. 7.
That said, they quickly assured us that three top execs who sold a combined $1.8 million in company stock just days after the breach was noticed Honestly Didn’t Know A Thing About It when they dumped it. (Yeah, right.)
What’s worse, it didn’t need to happen. Equifax was notified two months before the hack that a patch was available to fix the problem.
Apparently, Equifax didn’t see the urgency.
Well, given what’s happened, I do. Which gets me back to my To Do list.
I spent considerable time this weekend trying to shield Hank and me from Equifax’s blatant disregard for us. And You.
As one who had her checking account hacked in 2016 — that alone took me six months to fully fix — I can’t imagine the nightmare of full-blown ID theft. And I don’t want to find out.
So I’ve paid multiple visits to www.equifax.com to sign up for a free year of credit monitoring (the very least they can do although they don’t even let you do it all at once. Go there and you’ll see.)
I’ve also read everything I can about protecting ourselves. For us, the best move is to contact all three credit bureaus (Experian and TransUnion are the other two) and put a freeze on our files. That’s a more complicated process that requires some heavy duty documentation, but I’m getting it together.
Depending on your circumstances, a freeze might be too drastic. For one thing, it will keep you, as well as the Bad Guys, from gaining immediate access to your credit info.
There are less restrictive moves you can make and you can Google for some suggestions.
But whatever you do, Please Don’t Do Nothing.
Your future, especially your financial future, could hang in the balance.