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FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the internet.
By now, you likely have learned about that Equifax suffered tremendous hacking. Specifically, as Equifax recently announced, hackers took advantage of website application vulnerability to access records during a several month period from May through July of this year. Not only did these hacking activities take place over an extended period of time, but as many as a whopping 143 million consumers in the United States may have been impacted. How so? Their personally identifiable information may have been compromised, including Social Security numbers, addresses, drivers license numbers, and birth dates.
So, what should U.S. consumers do in response to Equifax hacking?
A recent article by Forbes.com provides some solid guidance in terms of a five-point plan.
First, find out if you are affected. Go to this site that has been set up to provide further details relating to the hack: EquafaxSecurity2017.com. To ascertain whether you have been affected, click on the Potential Impact link in the top navigation. After you have gone there, you are directed to the Check Potential Impact button. From there, enter the last six digits of your Social Security number and last name. Hopefully, you can find out your status. But there can be some vague responses. If you get a vague response, you can call the response line at 866-447-7559 for clarification.
Second, enroll in TrustedID Premier. Equifax is offering a complimentary monitoring service, which includes an Equifax credit report, 3 bureau credit file monitoring, Equifax credit report lock, Social Security monitoring, and up to $1 million in identity theft insurance.
Third, monitor your accounts. These means you should be active in reviewing your account statements, checking for any irregular activity or any changes in your personal information.
Fourth, visit the FTC Identity Theft site for additional recommendations on protecting yourself from identity theft. This site gives guidance regarding types of information stolen and exactly what to do in response. Some of this advice includes explaining when to place a credit freeze, suggesting to file taxes early (so hackers won't have as much time to use your Social Security number to file for you to get your tax refund), explaining not to trust anyone who calls saying you must pay taxes or debts promptly, and stating when to change passwords and login information.
Fifth, in the unfortunate event you have been a victim of identity theft, you should complete a form on the FTC Identity Theft Recovery site. This will give you a specific identity theft report as well a recovery plan to do list.
Hopefully, you were not a victim of the Equifax hacking. However, given how many US consumers probably have been affected, you or someone close to you may have been impacted and should take defensive steps for protection.
Eric Sinrod (@EricSinrod on Twitter) is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP, where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. You can read his professional biography here. To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod's columns, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.