You may have heard about the massive data breach at Equifax. Equifax is one of the large credit reporting bureaus, that collects credit and other personal information about people. A lot of this information they collect has been hacked. In Maine, about half a million people's information is affected by this breach.
What kind of information has been stolen?
The data that was stolen includes personal information like:
- Social Security numbers
- birth date
- driver’s license number
- credit card numbers
How do I know if my information is at risk?
Equifax has set up a website where you can check on whether or not you have been affected by this data breach. You will need to enter your last name, and the last six digits of your Social Security number.
Equifax is also offering free identity theft monitoring for a year. At first, to sign up for this you would be giving up your right to sue Equifax. They have said now that this is not true if you have been affected by this data breach, but it is not clear exactly what this means in the long run.
What can I do?
Under Maine law you can lock and unlock your credit report for free. This is a Maine law - it is not available in other states.
Locking your credit report will not prevent identify theft. But it will block anyone from getting credit (loans, credit cards, etc.) using your information while your report is locked.You can contact the credit report agencies directly to lock your credit report for free:
PO Box 105069
Atlanta, GA 30348
PO Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
Trans Union: 1-888-909-8872*
PO Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
The Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protections recommends that you lock your credit reports with each of the 'big three" credit reporting agencies. You can learn more, and get updates about this data breach at the Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection website.
You should also keep an eye on your credit reports. You can get a free report from each of the “big three” agencies once every 12 months. Learn more about getting your free credit reports.