The Equifax hack hit me: How I know, and what I’m doing about it
In our 24-hour news cycle, for fast-paced New Jersey residents, it's easy for certain stories to slip into the cracks. Don't let this horrific Equifax hack be one of them.
We're talking the potential ID theft of millions and millions and millions of Americans. (That figure, 143 million consumers, also happens to be roughly the population of Russia. Oh the irony.)
Putting aside my bubbling anger and anxiety, I checked the new website and plugged in my last name and numbers with trepidation ... and confirmed that I am one of the millions. There's a good chance you are, too.
It's equifaxsecurity2017.com. You want to check right now.
If you're reluctant about entering personal info via the web (what, you don't trust Equifax to keep it secure?), you can also call 866-447-7559 for more information.
We can't blame you if you're reluctant about that site. It's legit, but it sure doesn't look like it. The site isn't at Equifax's usual URL, it looks hastily assembled, it asks for for personal information and it doesn't give you much real information in response. It throws up many of the red flags security experts teach people they should look for when doing business online.
In fact, Georgina Weidman, founder and chief technology officer for security firm Shvirah, told the Associated Press asking people to trust a site like that teaches them all the wrong things about Internet security.
For the millions compromised, Equifax offers you to sign up for TrustedID Premier, an Equifax service — only it won't make it available to you until next week.
And there seems to be a big catch. There’s already a class-action lawsuit filed against the company. There's fine print in the TrustedID sign-up that seems to disqualify you from suing over this extremely reckless situation.
It's hard to find, too. The website, trustedidpremier.com/static/terms has the long list that typically makes my eyes glaze over, until this section:
ARBITRATION. PLEASE READ THIS ENTIRE SECTION CAREFULLY BECAUSE IT AFFECTS YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS BY REQUIRING ARBITRATION OF DISPUTES (EXCEPT AS SET FORTH BELOW) AND A WAIVER OF THE ABILITY TO BRING OR PARTICIPATE IN A CLASS ACTION, CLASS ARBITRATION, OR OTHER REPRESENTATIVE ACTION.
Then, a bit further down, this line, "This arbitration will be conducted as an individual arbitration. Neither You nor We consent or agree to any arbitration on a class or representative basis ..."
According to multiple news reports, it's not exactly clear whether that would bar you from suing. But it's not clear it wouldn't.
CNN reports that under intense public pressure Equifax on Friday added a provision letting you opt-out of the arbitration requirement. But you have to notifying Equifax in writing within 30 days of accepting the monitoring service.
So, what do you do to keep an eye on your credit and such, but you don't want to opt out of this massive lawsuit? You could pay out of pocket for a different service, for now. It looks like an average of $15 a month, for several services out there.
One obvious step to immediately take is to monitor all your accounts. Log on for each credit card or account, scan the statements.
I know it's a giant pain, but now's also the time to change your passwords and login info. That means secure passwords, and different ones across those accounts.
You can also visit the FTC Identity Theft website for advice on guarding against attacks. The government-run site has a checklist of sorts, based on what type of information was stolen. One suggestion is consider placing a credit freeze, which makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name.
When asked if I was willing to share my personal take on this mess, I heard Chandler from Friends echoing in my brain: "Could I *be* anymore of a target?!" Then I found a Friends montage of that tagline & that helped a bit with the rage.
Another step I plan on taking? Picking up wine on my way home today.
Good luck navigating the breach.
Proud Jersey Girl Erin Vogt’s first reporting gig involved her Fisher Price tape recorder. As a wife and momma of two kiddies, she firmly believes that life’s too short to drink bad coffee. A fan of the beach, Dave Grohl and karma, in no particular order.
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