In 2017, credit bureau Equifax announced that the sensitive personal information of 147 million people had been exposed in a data breach. As part of Equifax’s settlement with regulators, affected consumers were able to sign up for free monitoring of their credit reports from Equifax as well as the other two major credit bureaus, Experian and TransUnion.
Early this year, the settlement became final, and if you were among those who filed a claim for credit monitoring (the deadline was in January 2020), you should have received a letter or an e-mail from [email protected] with instructions to sign up for daily three-bureau monitoring with Experian IdentityWorks. You must enroll by June 27, 2022. For more details, you can check this page on the Federal Trade Commission website.
Names, birth dates and Social Security numbers are among the data involved in the breach. Those are key pieces of information that a criminal can use to open credit accounts in your name, among other forms of identity theft. If a new inquiry (a request by a lender to view your credit report), credit card, loan or collection account pops up on your credit reports, IdentityWorks should notify you.
The service also provides monitoring of internet black markets for your personal data, and up to $1 million in identity theft insurance, which reimburses you for certain expenses related to recovery from identity theft, such as lost wages or income, attorney and legal fees, and costs of child or elder care. You also get monthly access to your Experian credit report—although you can get a free credit report each week from each of the three major credit bureaus for the remainder of 2022 at www.annualcreditreport.com, and through 2026 all U.S. consumers get seven free Equifax credit reports per year. Your IdentityWorks membership lasts for four years, and you don’t need to cancel the service when it expires.
Even if you didn’t file a claim, if you become an identity-theft victim, you can get free identity-restoration services—such as help contacting your banks and lenders and notifying law enforcement—if you are among those whose data was exposed in the Equifax breach. To check your eligibility, visit the Equifax Data Breach Settlement website.