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Tips to Handle the Equifax Data Breach

Learn what to do to keep your identity safe

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(CNN)

ROANOKE, Va. – Approximately 143 million Americans are potential victims of identity theft after a massive cyber attack on Equifax, one of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting agencies. The information compromised includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, as well as credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 consumers.

To discover if your information has been potentially impacted, you can go to www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. Before you head to Equifax’s website, make sure you are using an encrypted computer. Equifax is offering one year of free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection through TrustedID Premier.

The Better Business Bureau has some tips to protect yourself moving forward: 

  • Act quickly. Breaches involving Social Security numbers have the potential to be highly detrimental, with damage that is difficult to repair.
  • Consider freezing your credit reports. This will not impact existing credit cards and financial accounts, but will create a roadblock for hackers seeking to create fraudulent accounts using your personal information. If later needed, a freeze can be temporarily lifted or removed.
  • Place a fraud alert on your credit reports if you know your Social Security number has been compromised. 
  • File your taxes early, before a scammer has the opportunity to file using your information.
  • Regularly check your credit reports at annualcreditreport.com for unauthorized charges or other signs of fraud.
  • Do not click on links from any messages about this or any other data breach.
  • Get a Virginia Identity Theft Passport if you suspect your information has been compromised. The Passport is a card that you can present to law enforcement or other individuals who may challenge you about your identity in the event that you become the victim of identity crime. The Passport is designed to serve as notification to help protect victims from unlawful detention or arrest for crimes committed by another under a stolen identity.

Additional information on identity theft in Virginia can be found at http://www.oag.state.va.us/programs-initiatives/identity-theft.