Equifax Data Breach: Deadline Nears for Free Credit Monitoring
Four months after the Equifax data breach became public, it’s deadline time: Consumers have until Jan. 31, 2018, to consider Equifax’s offer of free credit monitoring services.
Editor’s note: Separately, Equifax has extended its offer for freezing your credit report for free to June 30, 2018. The previous deadline was Jan. 31, 2018.
A quick recap: The data breach at Equifax, one of the nation three largest credit reporting companies, may have raised the risk of identity theft for more than 145 million consumers. The exposed information included names, addresses, birthdates and Social Security numbers. That data can be used by thieves to commit identity theft.
In response to the breach, Equifax first offered a year of free credit monitoring services until Nov. 21, 2017. It later extended the deadline to the end of January 2018. The free one-year offer includes anyone with a Social Security number.
Should you go to equifaxsecurity2017.com and sign up? It’s worth considering.
What’s included in Equifax’s offer?
Companies sometimes offer free credit monitoring services after a major data breach. Here are a few of the things included in the Equifax offer:
- Credit monitoring. You’ll get an alert if there’s suspicious activity on your credit reports at the three major credit reporting agencies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Equifax will send the alerts if they appear not just on Equifax’s system, but also on the other two bureau’s monitoring systems.
- One copy of your Equifax credit report. (You’ll still be able to get one free credit report annually from each of the major credit bureaus and AnnualCreditReport.com.)
- Social Security number monitoring. This searches suspicious websites for your Social Security number.
- Identity theft insurance. This helps pay for certain out-of-pocket expenses in the event you are a victim of identity theft.
- Credit locks. This enables you to lock and unlock you Equifax credit file for one year. The deadline for this service is June 30, 2018. After Jan. 31, 2018, Equifax said it will offer a free, lifelong service that will allow you to lock and unlock your credit file from a mobile phone or computer.
What are some of the limitations?
Whether or not you decide to sign up for Equifax’s free offering, here a few things to keep in mind:
- The free service lasts for just one year. Your personal information may be for sale on the dark web for far longer.
- Credit monitoring may not offer the same benefits as identity theft protection services. For instance, an identity theft protection service might include restoration services to help victims resolve various identity theft-related issues.
- Identity theft insurance typically reimburses victims only for money spent on reclaiming their financial identities and repairing their credit reports. Identity theft insurance does not cover direct financial losses you may incur as a result of identity theft.
- Credit locks and credit freezes can help keep identity thieves from opening new accounts in your name. They don’t help prevent thieves from accessing existing accounts. Also, to be effective, you need to place a credit freeze at all three credit bureaus. Depending on state law, freezes generally cost from $5 to $10.
It’s smart to take measures that help protect against identity theft. That could include Equifax’s offer.
Whatever you decide, don’t take too long: Jan. 31, 2018 is the Equifax deadline. Choosing any other measure to combat identity theft can be taken after that date.
Symantec Corporation, the world’s leading cyber security company, allows organizations, governments, and people to secure their most important data wherever it lives. More than 50 million people and families rely on Symantec’s Norton and LifeLock comprehensive digital safety platform to help protect their personal information, devices, home networks, and identities.