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Last week, as if two back-to-back hurricanes wasn’t enough, we all got some bad news. Equifax announced that back in July hackers got access to sensitive information of over 143 million people, including Social Security and drivers license numbers. While there have been hacks larger than Equifax in prior years, such as Yahoo!, none have been this severe. Credit agencies have access to our names, birth dates, addresses, credit card numbers, and more in addition to our Social Security and drivers license numbers.
There has been much criticism against Equifax this week. Primarily, that after two hacks in the past 12 months where thieves tool W-2 tax data, the company didn’t sufficiently beef up security. But, in most ways, it is too late. The pressing question is – What should you do now?
- Check if your information may have been compromised. Equifax has a service available to check if your information was involved in the data breach. Click here to check if your data was involved.
- Freeze your credit or put fraud alerts on your accounts. If your data was compromised, make moves to protect yourself from identity thieves from opening new credit cards or loans in your name. A credit freeze will block any credit requests unless you temporarily unfreeze your accounts with a private pin. Alternatively, fraud alerts let the credit bureaus know you may be the subject of identity theft. With alerts on your account, bureaus will double check that the applicant is actually you before proceeding. For more information on both these options, check out the first article in “Top Personal Finance Blog Posts of the Week” below.
- Diligently watch your credit score, credit cards, and accounts. Freezing your credit won’t stop thieves from manipulating accounts that already exist. Set up free services like Discover’s Credit Scorecard to regularly monitor your credit score and activity. Then keep a close eye on your credit card transactions and bank accounts. Which, if you have a budget, you are doing anyway! Quickly alert your bank or lender to any unusual activity.
As more and more data enters the web, hacks like this are going to occur. Setting up proper protections will help secure your information now and in the future. Make sure you have two-factor authentication on all your accounts, including email, use different passwords that you change regularly, and remain vigilant for unusual activity.
Quote of the Week
Top Personal Finance Blog Posts from the Week
How to Freeze Your Credit After the Equifax Hack Peter from Bible Money Matters provides some details on the Equifax hack, how to check if your information was compromised, and what the FTC is recommending you do now. One of the best ways to prevent thieves from using your information to open new accounts is to freeze your credit. Peter walks you through how that works and how to do it!
Don’t Fear the Zero Based Budget Eric from High Five Dad talks about my favorite budgeting method – the Zero Based Budget. It is what drives the budgeting software I use for our family’s finances, YNAB, and it means giving every single dollar in your budget a job. While it sounds a little scary, it means giving yourself real freedom to spend on the things that matter to you because you’ve budgeted for it! Check out Eric’s non-scary explanation of how it works.
I Wouldn’t Buy Our Wedding Rings Again Ms. Montana from Montana Money Adventures shares her minimalist thoughts and why, if she could go back, she wouldn’t buy her wedding rings again. I have to admit, I’m with her. I don’t even wear my beautiful ring from Daddy Fish, it sits tucked in the safe. I now wear a less than $100 simple band he got me from Etsy. Marriage is so much more than dollars spent.
Why Your 401(k) Is Broken (And How to Fix It) Not every 401(k) is perfect. Some employer plans have high fees, minimal fund options, or weak employer matching. Some employers still don’t offer 401(k)s at all! But that doesn’t mean you have to settle for what you have today. Retire Before Dad shares some tips on fixing the issues in your company’s 401(k).
7 Minimalist Principles That Are Total BS Bree from The Financial Diet shares some thoughts on when minimalism goes too far. I love the principles of simplification and minimalism, but we need to keep perspective! I’m totally with her that making my own soap over buying it at the store would NOT simplify or improve my life. Be realistic and set goals that work for you!
Do you have any questions about handling the Equifax hack? Did you learn something new about money this week? Let me know in the comments!
This post was proofread by Grammarly.
Hi, I’m Chelsea! I’m the founder of Mama Fish Saves and I’m almost embarrassingly passionate about reducing money stress for moms. As an ex-hedge fund investor, I’m an investment pro. I’m also a certified National Financial Education Instructor, mom to two hilarious young boys, and wife to my amazing husband (who’s a stay-at-home dad!). Let’s do great things together!