Equifax was recently hacked. As young adults, you might be confused or think you don’t use Equifax but it’s more likely than not that you do. You might also be brushing this off as “that only happens to other people, not to me” mentality, but you should pause for a minute. There are about 143 million American users affected and that ranges from 44% – 57% of the population. Similar to Americans, there are Canadians compromised, though they seem to be contained to those who have business dealings with the U.S. If this is the first time you’re hearing of this scandal – you should still be concerned.
Equifax is one of a few major credit reporting agencies that keep records of your entire financial history. Those credit reports include details about your bank accounts, social security number, credit cards, addresses (present and past), and phone numbers along with other very important details. Equifax was hacked back in May, and they only learned about it in July. The company then waited an entire six weeks to inform the public. Not only that, high-ranking employees sold off their shares of the company days after the incident.
Why does it affect you? As a young adult, you’re starting to build your life, which might involve a vehicle, a home, loans, – all of which require good credit scores. Those goals you’ve dreamed of accomplishing can be derailed for years to come if someone has your personal security information. They can take credit cards out in your name and spend every last cent. They can screw up your future education plans. They can pretend to be you, get into trouble and guess who has to deal with the fallout? You, and it won’t be as hilarious or easy to deal with as Melissa McCarthy’s 2013 movie Identity Thief either.
Remember: this is something life-altering and important to you as a person. As a young adult, your experience with this kind of thing might be limited and or maybe even nil. You have to make sure you know what’s happening because of Equifax, is a company, not someone who cares. *Please make sure to read further to find out what to do in this stressful situation.*
- Get a credit report by going to Annual Credit Report. You are legally able to get a free credit report once a year from any of the three credit reporting agencies
- You can also in enroll in TrustedID provided by Equifax, this gives you one free year of credit monitoring. However, signing up means you waive your right to participate in any class action suits or suing Equifax for the breach unless you opt out by mailing them a letter. Make sure to read up on whether enrolling is worth it or not.
- You’re also able to freeze your credit which might be beneficial if you don’t plan to open new credit or make large purchases for a decent period of time.
- Another idea is to set up a fraud alert by contacting a credit bureau and this means for 90 days any company trying to open credit in your name must first verify the person opening this credit is YOU.
- Monitor your credit from here on out. It’s recommended to check your credit reports at least once a year or as much as you can with your plans (applying for loans, credit cards, etc)
If you are affected you are eligible to take action in one of three ways:
- Small Claims Court
- File a personal formal lawsuit
- Join the class action lawsuit
- Canadian’s will not be able to find their information on Equifax U.S. as it’s designed for American consumers. Read on to find out where to request your information.
- You are able to request a credit report in the mail or online. You can do this by going to either Equifax Canada or Transunion Canada. Check and monitor your credit reports as time goes on.
- If you get your report online you get access to the information quickly and are able to print it out for your records. If you get your credit report by mail, it’s free but can take weeks to receive. Click here for more information on how to get a credit report.
- It’s recommended to check your credit reports at least twice a year.
- However, to receive your credit score which is a number based between 300-900, it likely will cost a fee. This is part of your credit report history but not usually included in the reports.
Be wary of your credit confidentiality. Don’t be afraid to check your credit score when you get the chance, it’s always a good idea. Hacks of the major credit companies such as that of Equifax are very big deals that should not be left in the hands of your parents – you’re an adult too. If your personal information gets affected, don’t be afraid to get involved, you have plenty of options. Stay safe out there in the big bad world, friends!
Collaboration with Cassandra Marie Vella
Featured Image via Pexels