COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today offered updated information for consumers following the recent announcement by Equifax of a major data breach affecting over 5 million Ohioans.
Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit reporting bureaus, has stated that their system was compromised between May and July of this year and includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver’s license numbers.
“The news of the Equifax breach was, and remains, absolutely shocking,” Attorney General DeWine said. “It’s important for consumers to understand the new information that has come to light in recent days so that they can make informed decisions moving forward, and I will continue to press Equifax to do the right things to help affected consumers.”
DeWine offered the following updates that can be found on Equifax’s website:
• Charge for Security Freeze: Equifax has agreed to waive fees for placing and removing security freezes through November 21, 2017. Additionally, consumers who paid for a security freeze starting at 5 p.m. on September 7 will receive a refund. Note that you are still required to pay for security freezes through TransUnion and Experian should you choose to place a freeze there; to do this, you must contact TransUnion and Experian directly.
To learn more about the breach, including whether you were affected, and to find updated information, visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.com or call 866-447-7559.
In response to the breach, Attorney General DeWine, along with 42 other attorneys general, issued a letter urging Equifax to reconsider some of its current practices in response to the breach. Among other things, the letter asks Equifax to reconsider and cease marketing fee-based products; to extend the TrustedID Premier enrollment deadline; and to extend the hours to 24-hours-a-day and to properly staff the call center.
Other tips consumers should consider include:
• Check your credit report. Monitoring your credit report can help you identify signs of potential identity theft. You are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com to access those reports. You can pull all three at once, or you can stagger pulling your reports throughout the year.
• Place an initial fraud alert on your credit report. Contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies — Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion — to place an initial fraud alert, which will stay on your credit report for 90 days. The alert is free of charge and will make it more difficult for someone to open credit in your name.
• Consider placing a security freeze on your credit report. A security freeze essentially puts a lock on your credit so that most third parties can’t access your report. This helps protect you from unauthorized accounts being opened in your name. In Ohio, security freezes are permanent until you lift them.
• Beware of scams related to the breach. Con artists may pretend to have information about the breach or they may falsely claim to want to help you. Some calls or messages may be scams designed to steal your money or personal information. Don’t give out personal information to those who contact you unexpectedly (even if they say they want to help you) and be wary about clicking on links or downloading attachments in messages.
• Monitor your bank accounts. Look for suspicious activity. If you find errors, immediately notify your bank or credit provider.
• When it’s tax season, consider filing early. File your taxes as soon as you have all of the information necessary to file so that there is less of a chance for someone to fraudulently file on your behalf. This is especially important if you know your information has been compromised.
Victims of identity theft should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515 or www.OhioProtects.org. Please note that the Ohio Attorney General recommends checking your credit reports first, and then contacting the Ohio Attorney General’s Office only if your information appears to have been misused.