What you need to know

The massive data breach affects 143 million people.

Dozens of potential class-action lawsuits have been filed, Congress has revved up hearings on the breach, and two legislators have promised bills targeting the credit reporting industry. This is the free service that Equifax is offering everyone for one year. Years from now, if they're not doing so already, schools may even teach older students how to protect themselves and what to do in the event of a problem, in much the same way they're taught to drive safely and what do when there's a crash.

Assume thieves have your information. So you can either go to each of the three credit bureaus individually, or you can go to a aggregator. "We are already in direct contact with Equifax to establish the facts including how many people in the United Kingdom have been affected and what kind of personal data may have been compromised". "No matter what ... as soon as Equifax responds, meaning lawyers get involved, any unrepresented individual is basically sunk", Sunderlin says.

Equifax announced last week that it learned on July 29 that hackers had infiltrated its systems in mid-May, gaining access to a wide swath of personal information, in what cyber security experts believe is one of the largest data hacks ever disclosed. It doesn't damage your credit or stop your credit report from evolving by your own actions. Assume that your information is out there and that a criminal can get it.

Government at multiple levels see this breach as both a continuation of a very concerning lack of corporate data security, and a strong impetus that more regulation and oversight is required. If it does then they charge huge amounts. You still need to monitor all bank, credit card and insurance statements for fraudulent transactions.

Until the Equifax Inc. hack, many consumers didn't know what a credit freeze was. Debit cards do not have the same protections as credit cards and debit transactions withdraw funds directly from your bank account.

You can do this yourself.

Hey, your personal information probably is sitting in a file on the dark web, which is like the regular web except with more liars and less porn. He says it's a good idea to freeze your credit immediately. Your existing credit cards and other accounts will not be impacted.

Equifax has warned, though, that credit card numbers for about 209,000 people were exposed in the breach, as was "personal identifying information" on roughly 182,000 customers involved in credit report disputes. Cool. A few minutes after I hung up, I was notified that they cancelled my current card. For example, if you provide a telephone number, the business must call you to verify whether you are the person making the credit request.

∙ Always contact your financial institution directly - by phone - to report suspicious activity on your accounts or to confirm whether they sent you a notification. The question is what happens with your data once Equifax or the other bureaus have it.

  • Zachary Reyes