Equifax Breach

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Take the cash, or free credit monitoring?

Take the Cash!

Almost two years ago, Equifax announced that 147 million Americans, or almost half of the U.S. population, had their sensitive information stolen. In return for their lack of security protocol, they’ve settled with the FTC to the tune of $425 million. Per the settlement, Equifax has said they could offer free credit monitoring, or cash. I took the cash. Here’s why.

There’s no way I can opt out of EquiFax, but I can do my best to make them feel the pain.

I went to the Federal Trade Commission’s website and from there went to the Equifax Data Breach Settlement stand alone site.  There I was; with a page, once again, asking for all of my PII (Ugh). I just wanted to shut down my computer and walk away, but I needed to see for myself since everyone kept asking for sound advice. 

Once I entered my information, I had two choices: either 10 years of free credit monitoring or $125. 

Since I’ve been the victim numerous times before, and Equifax already had my information stolen, it was a no-brainer to take the cash. I also filed a claim, and claimed twenty dollars an hour for the extra six hours of my time that I spent researching, writing letters, and freezing my credit.  

You may or may not get the full $125. 

However, now that my trust with this company is compromised, why would I continue opting for more of their services? Alas, as an alternative, I can give you a free resource that is better than any Lifelock-type product that you can do yourself for free.

Freezing your credit is the single best way to prevent yourself from becoming the next identity theft victim. 

If the cybercriminals get access to your PII in an attempt to open fraudulent accounts, they will be prevented by the credit freeze. When I did this last year it was difficult and took a lot of time and effort. Today you can spend $9.95 a month on Lifelock, or thanks to my good friend and former Federal Prosecutor Thomas O’Malley you can get it all for free. The information is available on his website www.frozenpii.net and it is the most comprehensive identity theft resource around. It really is a game-changer in how we protect our information. 

Equifax has made a huge mistake, with all of us paying the price. I do not have a choice to opt out of what has already occurred. I can yell, scream, write letters, but at the end of the day, there’s not much recourse. Can your company survive the storm of losing your clients’ information? If Equifax can’t keep it all straight, how can a small or mid-sized company? This is why a majority of smaller companies go out of business after a data breach. What about yours?

Bottom line? Take the cash, freeze your credit, and stay vigilant about your cybersecurity.

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