Consumer Reports: Equifax data breach
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) —
Many adults in the U.S. have been affected by the Equifax data breach.
If your personal information was compromised, Consumer Reports advises that the simplest move is to put a fraud alert in place, warning prospective lenders that your information has been compromised.
"A fraud alert requires a lender to take reasonable, extra steps, to confirm that the person trying to open a new credit account, is in fact you," Consumer Reports Money Editor Margot Gilman said.
Activating a standard fraud alert is free; just contact any one of the three big credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian or TransUnion -- who then pass it on to the other two.
"Typically, a fraud alert lasts 90 days. Which means you have to re-up every three months," Gilman said. "But on the plus side, you're entitled to a free credit report every time you do."
A stronger option is a credit freeze -- which needs to be requested from each of the three major credit bureaus. It may involve a fee, but once in place, a freeze is the single, most effective way to protect against credit fraud.
However, there is a downside.
Afreeze can also shut out companies you want to do business with and you will likely be charged a fee to temporarily lift the freeze.
Equafix will likely lift those charges after the start of the year.