When the major credit bureau Equifax announced its customer files had been hacked, it caused a major uproar. Many people in Florida found out their files had been compromised and their sensitive information had been leaked. While Equifax worked to combat consumer fear, there was no erasing what had happened. Now consumers are left wondering what this means for their credit and finances in the future.
The main concerns stem from the fact credit card numbers, personal identifying information and even passwords or security codes could have been stolen. There is a high chance if a person's information was taken, he or she may face issues with credit fraud or identity theft in the future. The scariest part is there is no real time limit on how long consumers need to watch their credit for suspicious activity because it could be used years into the future.
The most vulnerable
Quartz media notes the people who are most likely to suffer due to the Equifax breach are those who know little about credit monitoring and security. While Equifax is taking steps to alert everyone whose information was breached, the roll out of notifications is rather slow for those who do not have internet or who do not know about the online website to check if they were victims. One of the best ways to prevent identity theft or fraud is for consumers to become educated about what to do if these things happen.
Defining fraud and identity theft
Experian, one of the other major credit bureaus, provides consumers with a look at what identity theft is and how it can be prevented or at least protected against. Obviously, if a consumer's information was stolen in the Equifax breach, it is not something he or she has control of, but through monitoring his or her credit, watching any open credit accounts for odd charges and simply being vigilant, a person can limit the damage that could be done by a thief. It is recommended that consumers add a fraud alert or credit freeze to their accounts at all three major credit bureaus. In addition, individuals should report any suspicious activity right away.