Last weekend, I was doing my normal Sunday routine. I got up early with my daughter and we played for a bit. Then, I made some coffee and breakfast. We had some friends that had stayed overnight and as we were cleaning up breakfast my phone started to buzz.

I had missed a call and voicemail from my local bank and I also had a text message. I read the message, “Travel Card Fraud. Did you authorize…”

There were 143 million Americans that had their data exposed through the Equifax Data Breach. There were over 200,000 credit card numbers exposed, and after calling my bank back, I found out my credit card was one of them!

That Sunday morning, someone had made a small charge on my credit card. They followed that up with a $40 charge to Papa Johns. After I found out my credit card had been hacked, I Googled what I should do next. I was directed to the Equifax website and started the process to see to what extent I was affected. Check out the end of the post where I discuss the silver lining that I found throughout this messy process…

How to find out if you were affected by the Equifax data breach

To find out if you were affected by the Equifax Data Breach, sign up with TrustedID Partner, a file monitoring, and identity theft protection product. The process is straightforward to sign up – your name, date of birth, social security number and your address.

I highly recommend that you access this website on a computer that is connected to a trusted network. Don’t go to a coffee shop and use their wifi when checking whether you were affected by the Equifax data breach.

After completing this step, you will find out whether you were affected.

After checking if you were exposed to the data breach, you can sign up for one year of free credit monitoring and credit lock services. These five features are included as part of the package:

  • Equifax Credit Report: Provides copies of your Equifax Credit Report.
  • 3 Bureau Credit File Monitoring: Credit file monitoring and automated alerts of key changes to your Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit files.
  • Equifax Credit Report Lock: Allows you to prevent access to your Equifax credit report by third parties, with certain exceptions.
  • Social Security Number Monitoring: Searches suspicious websites for your Social Security number.
  • $1M Identity Theft Insurance: Up to $1 million in ID theft insurance. Helps pay for certain out-of-pocket expenses in the event you are a victim of identity theft.

This is a pretty sweet benefit to get for a year. Especially after a hack where so many people were affected.

Other things you should do

Monitor your credit score and bank accounts.

There are many ways to do so, and you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report each year. I would recommend checking out annualcreditreport.com.

This would be a good sanity check against the report Equifax will provide to you if you sign up for their one year of free credit monitoring.

For your bank accounts, it is easy to monitor them if you use tools like Mint.com or Personal Capital. These tools offer notifications that you can set. For example, you may want to get notified of each expense for a couple of months to ensure no one hacked into your account.

I think this is good practice to do regardless. I usually check my bank account two to three times each week. Additionally, my wife and I try to go through our finances in detail each month so we can qualify each expense we had.

Institute a credit freeze

A credit freeze may seem a bit extreme, but it is definitely worth protecting yourself. A credit freeze disables lenders from pulling up your credit report. Therefore, if someone attempts to take a loan out under your name the lender will ask why they have a credit freeze.

The only way to lift the freeze, which you can implement a temporary freeze, is to contact the reporting agency. This costs roughly $5 – $10.

Check out the Identify Theft site

The Federal Trade Commission has a page on their website that discusses Identify Theft. There are free resources on the site that review how to protect your identity. Additional resources explain what to do if you identify is comprimised.

The silver lining when your credit card gets hacked…

The biggest thing I’ve found since we had to order new credit cards is the number of automatic payments we have to things we don’t use that much! Now I’m not going to lie that setting up all of our autopayments that we had using our credit was fun. It was a pain in the rear.

But, I was able to cancel three small monthly payments I had for apps on my phone I never used. I also debated getting rid of my Economist membership. The reason I didn’t is that these companies rope you into calling them. You can’t just cancel a membership via the web.

And it works! I’ve been wanting to cancel my Economist membership for months, but I was too lazy to pick up the phone and make the call! Now I don’t have to! My credit card no not longer work when they go make the autopayment!

I will save close to $75 each month that I was essentially throwing away.

Were you affected by the Equifax data breach? Are there any other steps you would recommend completing if you were hacked?