The data breach at Equifax may have exposed more than 143 million people to identity theft. That’s nearly half the country’s population, and the damage has already been done. At this point, there is no way to turn back the clock and protect or get back the information that was compromised. However, there may be a way to reduce the chances of something being done with that information. Monitoring your credit and making sure no one is using your identity are both very important at this time, and for at least one year after the information was exposed.

How Did This Data Breach Happen?

According to Equifax, the breach was caused by a weak point in their cybersecurity that was accessed by hackers. When this took place, which began occurring as early as mid-May of 2017 and continued through mid-July, hackers were able to access names, social security numbers, and other personal information, including some driver’s license numbers, addresses, and birth dates. Additionally, the credit card numbers of some customers may have also been compromised in the breach, although that doesn’t apply to everyone who’s other information may have been obtained.

This data breach is the worst that has ever taken place and has exposed far more people to the risk of identity theft than breaches in the past. One of the largest concerns is that some consumers may not realize they’re at risk because they aren’t clear on whether they have a file with Equifax. Because they may not have actually done business with the company, they could think they’re safe and that they don’t need credit monitoring. The problem with that line of thinking is that so many other companies report to Equifax. That includes credit cards, mortgage companies, banks and related types of lenders, and some utility and rental companies. Anyone with accounts at any of these places could be at risk.

What Should Consumers Be Doing?

Consumers will want to protect their identity and credit with proper monitoring services and identity theft protection, now more than ever.  “If you suspect you may be at risk, you should contact all three bureaus and place a fraud alert on your credit file,” said  Justin Camper, President & CEO of Build My Scores, a Plano, Texas-based credit repair agency.  “If you contact Equifax, they should provide these three things at no cost: Credit monitoring of all three bureaus, SSI Guard, and Identity Theft Protection.”

“We at Build My Scores are also affected and we are not taking this lightly.”Mr. Camper said. “Even myself, the CEO of Build My Scores, along with my whole staff and family are on the list of those affected,  and the process we are taking to protect our own credit will be the same we will suggest for each of our clients.

In the next few days, Build My Scores will send out a to-do list, to current and past clients, along with suggestions of protection products that will be better than the free ones Equifax is offering. BMS is taking immediate action and wants to give you a link to see if you have been affected. Please follow this link to see if your info was compromised:

If you are on the list please contact Build My Scores for a free consultation and advice to protect yourself.

Because such a large number of people are at risk, it’s vital that consumers take steps to protect themselves. Additionally, they should remember that many hackers who get access to sensitive information will hold onto that information for several months before they try to use it.

Even though consumers haven’t seen any evidence of someone trying to use their identity now doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the future. They should be protecting themselves and monitoring their credit now, and they should keep doing so in the future. It’s the best way to make sure they’re staying safe and their identity is being protected.