Protecting Your Identity After the Equifax Security Breach
COLUMBIA, SC (JAMAL GOSS, WACH-TV) — More than 140 million people were affected by the recent Equifax hack, two million of them may be right here in South Carolina.
Consumer officials are now urging everyone to take an active role in monitoring their credit.
Protecting your identity is important and knowing how to do it could save hundreds even thousands of dollars.
Carri Lybarker, with the Department of Consumer Affairs, said more than 2.3 million South Carolinians have already been affected by a security breach involving Equifax, that’s nearly half the state’s population.
“You’re not an identity theft victim until a thief actually utilizes your information,” Lybarker said. “That’s an important difference because the steps you will take to avoid and identify identity theft are different from those you would take to resolve it.”
The breach caused personal information like names, social security numbers and home addresses to be stolen from the company.
“The first tool that consumers have is a security freeze which puts their credit report on lockdown. No one can get access to it.” At least without your permission.
All credit bureaus must be contacted before adding the protection.
“It’s different than a security freeze,” Lybarker said. “Again, one fraud alert only last 90 days, security freeze last until you lift it or thaw it.” It would demand businesses take extra steps when verifying your identity.
Lybarker said using things like multi-factor authentication, and updating passwords frequently could help limit the risk altogether.
“Scam artist, unfortunately, follow the headlines,” Lybarker said. “Consumers need to be extra vigilant when they get cold called or receive emails pertaining to being related to this Equifax security breach.”
The department reminds South Carolinians to never give personal information over the phone, by email or regular mail. If you can’t verify the person asking, chances are it’s a scam.
To file a complaint or get information on consumer issues, visit www.consumer.sc.gov or call toll-free, (800) 922-1594.
Check to see if you’ve been affected by the data breach here.