Equifax, the consumer credit reporting agency, experienced a security breach which compromised the personal information of 143 million people, including Central New Yorkers.

What does that mean to you? It means that your name, social security number, birthdate and other critical information about your credit history could be in the hand of hackers who may then use that information for illegitimate purposes, including identity theft and getting credit in your name.

According to CNBC, you should assume your data was hacked.

What do you need to do? First, you need to scrutinize your regular credit card and bank statements. You should be doing this on a regular basis, as the Equifax breach demonstrates that anyone's data can be vulnerable.

Second, you'll want to go to equifaxsecurity2017.com to see if Equifax feels your data was involved in the breach. Be warned, however, that the tool is not 100% accurate. If you were, Equifax is offering free credit monitoring.

Initially, opting-in for Equifax's monitoring meant that you had to give up your right to sue the company in the future. CNN Money reports that is no longer the case.

If you decide not to use Equifax's service, all the major credit agencies offer some kind of credit monitoring, though the service is not free. It's possible that your credit card company may offer a similar service.

Can I just stop using Equifax? Nope. Not unless you stop using credit altogether. They're a major credit reporting agency and work hand-in-hand with all credit companies.

The best you can do is to closely watch your credit - review your bank and credit card statements - and review your credit report at least annually and question any unfamiliar accounts or transactions.

Or maybe we just need to go back to a barter system for everything...


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