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Expert Tips on Protecting Your Credit After Massive Equifax Breach

Experts advise consumers to use a secure connection, not a public wifi connection, when contacting credit agencies. (gvictoria/istockphoto)
Experts advise consumers to use a secure connection, not a public wifi connection, when contacting credit agencies. (gvictoria/istockphoto)
September 14, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. — Many consumers may be wondering what to do after credit reporting agency Equifax admitted that hackers stole personal information belonging to 143 million Americans.

Experts say you can take action to protect yourself. First, you can check the website EquifaxSecurity2017.com to see if your data was compromised. Second, you can get a free credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com. Chuck Harwood, regional director of the Northwest regional office of the Federal Trade Commission, said you also can put a "fraud alert" on your credit report.

"Now you can do that even if you're not sure you've been the victim of identity theft, but if you're even worried about it, you can put a fraud alert on your credit report,” Harwood said. "It's good for 90 days. It tells people who may want to use that credit report they should check carefully before they grant additional credit."

The FTC advises scrutinizing your credit report to see if anything unusual pops up, and read bank and credit card statements closely. You should also file your taxes as soon as you are able, so no one can steal your tax refund.

Carmel Perez Snyder, director of advocacy and outreach at AARP Oregon, said you can also direct the credit agencies to freeze your accounts.

"That freezes any application for a new line of credit,” Perez Snyder said. "Keep in mind that a credit freeze won't prevent a thief from making charges to existing accounts. And that remains in effect until you request that it be lifted."

AARP also has a free Fraud Watch service, where you can sign up for alerts on the latest scams or report any suspicious calls or letters you may have received. You can find many other useful tips on OregonConsumer.gov and IdentityTheft.gov.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - OR