I’m feeling exhausted and in need of a break. Not just a break from work, but I also need a financial break. Like over 140 million Americans, I’m simultaneously infuriated and apathetic about the Equifax data breach. I’m furious that Equifax (and likely their competitors as well from what I’ve been reading) can be so lax in their data security.
On the other hand, I’m also numb and jaded given that I’ve already been affected by multiple large breaches already (university, state gov’t, retailers, data companies). My social security number has been compromised so many times, it doesn’t know which way is up anymore. And this Equifax data breach is the worst of all.
These organizations and corporations never appear to face any consequences. Needless to say there is something wrong with this. Companies that can profit from their own lax protocol and data handling will never have any incentive to do any better. They are like bad student loan servicers that misplace paperwork and neglect proper record keeping, then profit even more from the resulting slew of borrower defaults.
What do you do when something that was supposed to help you, turns on you instead? Not only does it become almost useless, it can become a hindrance and an obstacle that you have to fight against.
This week I’ve done the following (after several failed attempts due to each of the websites being swamped):
1) signed up for free services for two of the big 3 agencies, which will allow me to “lock” my report and get free credit monitoring. I have locked my report for each of those agencies.
2) paid for a monthly service from one agency to monitor and protect against identity theft, allow me to “lock” my report, monitor any changes in my reports etc. I have locked my report at this agency, as well.
3) put a freeze on my reports (free) at two smaller agencies (Innovis and ChexSystems).
When I have more time I will revisit the “lock vs. freeze” issue, as there are differences between the two. I will figure out a more permanent (and hopefully free) solution that I feel comfortable with. This breach will have lifelong consequences.
Next, it’s time to think about updating passwords, particularly to key accounts.
Next year, I will file taxes as early as possible to help prevent refund theft.
And yet, even taking this many steps may not protect us from everything that criminals could possibly do with our data.
What a PITA! We shouldn’t have to deal with this, let alone pay for it. What are you guys doing about this?