A major data breach at one of the firms that tracks the credit of Americans should serve as a reminder for all consumers to monitor their information.
Equifax says the data of 143 million U.S. consumers may have been compromised. While the firm does plan to offer monitoring services to those affected by the breach, Wisconsin Bankers Association President and CEO Rose Oswald Poels says it’s still a good idea for everyone to keep an eye on their accounts. “You really just need to stay vigilant on your own, because these breaches can happen pretty regularly,” she warns.
The easiest way to monitor accounts is to keep tabs on them online. Poels says you should also pull your credit report from each of the big three monitoring agencies once a year. Federal law requires those agencies to provide a free report once a year.
Consumers can put a hold their accounts to prevent new lines of credit from being opened, although Poels says that hold will apply to them as well if they try to open something like a store credit card.
Consumers can check to see if they were affected by the breach through Equifax’s website.