Equifax hack: Experts warn to act now to protect your credit

Posted: Updated:

Financial experts are warning that everyone should assume they are a victim of the Equifax data breach and should immediately take steps to protect their credit.

Equifax, one of the nation's largest credit data companies, announced last week that the credit files of nearly 150 million people had been hacked. Since then, confusion has erupted over the implications of the hack and exactly who is affected.

The stolen data includes Social Security numbers, birthdays, addresses and even some driver’s license numbers.

Equifax has offered a year of credit monitoring for anyone who signs up. But certified financial planner Jon L. Ten Haagen says that's not enough, and recommends that consumers immediately sign up for a security freeze, or credit freeze, with the four major credit bureaus.

A credit freeze locks a person’s file from accepting any new credit approvals. Once their credit is frozen, people who want to apply for a mortgage, finance a car, or even rent an apartment must first unlock their credit report beforehand with a special PIN code assigned by each credit agency.

The process may seem like a hassle, but Ten Haagen says it's less of a hassle than trying to repair your credit once thieves start opening credit cards with your information.

"You've got to protect yourself and you've got to do it today. Don't wait a month or two to get around to it," Ten Haagen warns.

Equifax says its investigation into the data breach is ongoing.

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