Equifax Breach: What You Can Do and What's Being Done in Washington

September 20, 2017 10:33 AM

The Equifax data breach is prompting new legislation on Capitol Hill.

Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) introduced The Data Broker Accountability and Transparency Act, which would help consumers control what personal information is listed with different credit bureaus and would let them prohibit sharing or selling that information.

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RELATED: Equifax says Data from 143 Million Americans Exposed in Hack

During an interview Saturday, Sen. Franken said part of the bill also requires data collection companies to disclose when hacks occur.

"We also want to make sure that when these companies, whether it's a huge retailer like Target, or whether it's a data broker, they report this right away," Franken said. "This is very important information and it can have a tremendous effect on your financial life."

Financial experts, like John McCullough, have been fielding calls for two weeks from consumers and financial institutions.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce released these tips for consumers Thursday:

  • Check your credit reports: Every 12 months, you can request a copy of your credit report – for free – from each of the three major credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call 877-322-8228. Carefully review the information and immediately report any unauthorized accounts, suspicious activity or inaccuracies.
  • Request a security freeze on your credit report: A freeze restricts access to your credit report, making it nearly impossible for someone to open a new account or line of credit in your name. If you are a victim of identity theft, Minnesota law allows you to place a credit freeze for free. Otherwise, there is a $5 fee. The Commerce website has a form you can use to request a freeze from the three major credit reporting agencies.
  • Place a fraud alert on your credit report: If you decide against a security freeze, consider placing a fraud alert on your credit report. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim, so they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name really is you.
  • Monitor your existing credit cards and financial accounts: Immediately report any suspicious charges or activity. Be alert if your monthly bill or statement does not arrive on time. It may be a sign that someone has hijacked your account.

Credits

Kirsten Swanson

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