Options Available for Preventing Fraud, Identity Theft After Equ - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Options Available for Preventing Fraud, Identity Theft After Equifax Data Breach

Posted: 09/11/2017 20:02:00 -04:00 Updated:

DOVER, Del. -- A data breach at Equifax involving personal information of up to 143 million people was recently disclosed by the credit-reporting firm, prompting recommendations for many consumers to take steps to prevent fraud and identity theft.

The data breach, reported last week by Equifax, occurred between May and late July and allowed personal information like social security numbers, dates of birth, and addresses, and in some cases driver's license numbers, to be accessed. 

Equifax has created a website to allow users to determine if their information was potentially accessed, though Lisa Hastings with Dover Accounting Firm Faw Casson said many people may not realize they are affected by the data breach.

"If [hackers] don't leave any trail, it's really hard to realize it's even happened," she said.

If someone believes their personal information is at risk, Federal Trade Commission recommends potentially using credit freezes with the three primary credit-reporting agencies, including Equifax. The move would allow someone to restrict access to their credit histories, potentially preventing misuse of someone's personal information to open fraudulent accounts or credit cards, though it can also include fees and may require lead time to place or remove an individual freeze.

Hastings said consumers should consider placing fraud alerts with each of the major credit agencies, to increase creditors' scrutiny on requests.

"That's sort of one of [Equifax's] restitution measures, is to put a fraud watch on your account for you without having to pay for it," he said.

Hastings said one other issue that could affect consumers is fraudulent tax returns filed in their names. She also recommended people regularly check their bank and credit card statements.

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