Yesterday, Equifax revealed that sensitive information such as Social Security numbers of 143 million customers were stolen through a cyberattack. That's close to half the U.S. population. Equifax is one of the three major credit reporting agencies.
Here are four things we can do to mitigate potential damage to our credit:
1) Enroll in Equifax's free credit protection service by November 21. It will become active in a few days, and the site will likely alert us if someone is trying to get credit on our behalf.
2) Place security freezes at Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. This will lock down your credit files, so that only companies that you currently do business with can see them. A thief will not be able to open a new account using your name, since other companies will not be able to access your credit file. You can temporarily lift the freeze each time you want to apply for new credit.
3) Turn on 2-factor authentication in your gmail and other accounts with that option.
4) When creating a new password for your accounts, the world's most famous password guru now advises us to use long but easy-to-remember passphrases, a sequence of four to six words. According to the article, using “horsecarrotsaddlestable” would take one trillion years for a botnet cyber attack to crack, compared to one minute for “P@55w0rd”.