If you have a credit report, you may be one of the 143 million American consumers whose sensitive personal information was exposed in a data breach at Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit reporting agencies.

This means you may begin to receive calls from scammers saying they are calling from Equifax. Do not provide information. Equifax will not call you; protect your sensitive information.

According to Equifax, the data breach lasted from mid-May through July. The hackers accessed peoples’ names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. They also stole credit card numbers for about 209,000 people and dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 people.

Protect your information from being misused: visit Equifax’s website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.

  • Find out if your information was exposed. Click on the “Potential Impact” tab, and enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number. Your Social Security number is sensitive information—be sure to use a secure computer and an encrypted network connection any time you enter this information. The site will tell you if you’ve been affected by this breach.
  • Whether or not your information was exposed, U.S. consumers can get a year of free credit monitoring and other services. The site will give you a date when you can come back to enroll. Write down the date, and return to the site on that date. Click “Enroll” at that time. You have until November 21, 2017 to enroll.
  • Access frequently asked questions at the website.

Other steps to help protect yourself after a data breach:

  • Check your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—for free—by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. Accounts or activity that you don’t recognize could indicate identity theft. Visit www.identitytheft.gov for help with identity theft.
  • Consider placing a credit freeze on your files. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. Keep in mind that a credit freeze won’t prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts.
  • Monitor your existing credit cards and bank accounts closely for charges you don’t recognize.
  • If you decide against a credit freeze, consider placing a fraud alert on your files. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and that they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name really is you.
  • File your taxes early—as soon as you have the tax information you need—before a scammer can. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. Respond right away to letters from the IRS.

Learn more about protecting yourself from identity theft; contact a Community Resource Specialist of Sourcewise: (408) 350-3200, option 1.