What you need to know about the Equifax data breach and steps you can take

data breach

As you may be aware, Equifax announced last week they had experienced a data breach affecting approximately 143 million Americans. The Canadian exposure is reported to be limited.

This breach was not against any bank or credit union, but against the credit reporting bureau. If you wish to check whether your data may be among those files that were compromised, you can check on the following website:  https://trustedidpremier.com/eligibility/eligibility.html

Alternatively, you can monitor the situation on a special Equifax web page for current information  https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/

If you wish, you can contact Equifax to discuss your concerns at  1-877-323-2598 or 1-866-828-5961 . Please note that service may be affected by Hurricane Irma.

What to do if you believe your data has been hacked:

  • Monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts closely for unauthorized charges. Contact relevant financial institutions, such as banks that issued credit cards and stop cheques, as quickly as possible. Call local police along with Service Canada if your Social Insurance Number was used. Report confirmed cases to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre  http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/index-eng.htm  Toll Free  1-888-495-8501;
  • Change all affected passwords with new, strong and unique passwords for each account;
  • Consider placing a credit freeze on your files. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. It will not prevent a thief from using any of your existing accounts;
  • Consider enrolling in a fraud alert. Equifax says it will offer free identity theft protection and credit file monitoring for one year to all U.S. consumers, but doesn’t say if that will be available to Canadians. The service monitors if your information is used to open credit accounts or appears on suspicious websites. Several identity theft and recovery companies provide similar services.