PHILADELPHIA - Consumers are being bombarded with conflicting information about what they should do to prevent identity theft in light of what may be the largest and most damaging data breach to date.
Pennsylvania is leading the charge to investigate the breach and make sure consumer information is better protected.
Equifax has made some changes since announcing that massive data breach and at least one of those changes is thanks to direct action already taken by the Pennsylvania Attorney General.
Here's the updated information on what you should do: First, go to EquifaxSecurity2017.com and click Check Potential Impact.
Equifax is offering free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection even if your information wasn't compromised, but when it first announced the service, it had strings attached - namely by signing up, you were waiving your right to sue the company.
"We got right on the horn with Equifax and we made them stop doing that. So now if you go on to that website, you sign up for the monitoring, you're not giving away your legal rights," said Pennsylvania Attorney General, Josh Shapiro.
So now at least that concern is alleviated when you enroll in the service, which is called TrustedID Premier. But be aware - the credit monitoring is only complimentary for one year.
"I have not liked their behavior one bit, whether it's because they didn't take the necessary steps to protect our data number one, number two they didn't report this with the immediacy they should have," said Shapiro.
Equifax waited more than a month to alert consumers of the breach. Now Shapiro is leading a multi-state investigation into the delay and to ensure consumer information is better protected.
"It's important at the end of these investigations yes, to recover monetarily for the people of your state or the people of our Commonweawlth, but it's really important that reforms be put in place," said Shapiro.
In the meantime, here's what you should really do to protect yourself from identity theft any time and long-term:
- Set up a fraud alert with all three major credit reporting agencies. You'll be alerted if someone tries to apply for credit in your name.
- Freeze your credit, then only companies you already do business with will have access to your credit files.
- Always check your credit report for free with each of the bureaus by going to AnnualCreditReport.com. Pull from a different bureau every four months.
And if you've already fallen victim to ID theft, notify your state's Attorney General. For Pennsylvania, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-441-2555.
Finally, Attorney General Shapiro also shared exclusively with Action News a letter he wrote to Equifax.
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