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Have you done this yet? Actions you should take following the recent Equifax, Sonic and Whole Foods breaches

I’ve written about the recent Equifax, Sonic and Whole Foods breaches already, but am following up here to challenge anyone reading this: HAVE YOU TAKEN ACTION TO PROTECT YOURSELF YET?

Because of these breaches, literally hundreds of millions of records were stolen. In the case of Equifax, personal data including social security numbers and driver’s license numbers were stolen. In the Sonic and Whole Food breaches, it was credit card data. The obvious question is, what can I do now?

The Equifax hack is the most dangerous, as your social security number and personal data are used in the US as a verification of your identity. With this stolen, it makes it very easy for identity thieves to open credit lines in your name. The best thing to do to avoid this is to put a freeze on your credit. A freeze will prevent most inquiries and opening of any credit lines. Companies you have existing relationships with are exempt from this, so your current credit card company or mortgage bank can still pull your credit. You should only do this if you are not planning on any of the following activities:

  • purchasing a home;
  • moving to a new apartment;
  • opening a new credit card;
  • applying for a new job (although why would you want to do that?);
  • purchasing a new car;
  • or any other activity that will look at your credit in the next month or so.

If you are about to do any of the above activities, you can always lift the freeze if needed, but be forewarned: it often takes some time to lift a freeze (a month or more). Typically, a credit freeze costs money, however with the Equifax breach, they are offering a free credit freeze at this link: https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp.

In addition, Equifax is offering free credit monitoring through TrustedID Premier, which they own. This is a 3-bureau credit monitoring service that’s active for one year. You can sign up for this service by going to this link and clicking enroll: www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.

Sonic Drive-In is also offering a credit monitoring service for free — this time it’s a 2-year membership to an Experian-owned credit monitoring company called Experian IdentityWorks. You can find the link to sign up for this service here: https://www.sonicdrivein.com/-/notice-of-data-breach.

Whole Foods has not yet announced any service for customers who went to the in-store restaurant and taproom. They may eventually offer something and you can keep up to date on the progress of their investigation here: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/customernotification.