When hackers broke into the data files of Equifax, they got a gold mine of personal information that could unravel your life. There's some information you can't change, like your birth date or Social Security number, and while many experts are offering tips to help protect your identity, one man has figured out some extra steps you can take.
Frank Compagno is concerned that he was one of the 143 million U.S. consumers whose personal information was stolen by hackers from Equifax. It's one of the three major consumer credit reporting agencies. When he and his daughter went to the approved site to see if they were affected, they got a red screen stating 'deceptive site ahead.'
"It caused in my mind further concern, that perhaps I had given out more information now than I should have," said Compagno.
No federal agency has heard of this, nor had a local expert in the credit industry, saying maybe it was personal malware protection on Compagno's computer. Hundreds of his employees and family have checked their names safely with no problem. Equifax responded with an unspecific answer stating the site contains the names and numbers of all potentially impacted consumers, and that the reason fake names and numbers may work in the system, is because the data include "a very limited number of names and numbers that do not connect to real people."
Meanwhile, experts say to go on line and freeze your credit report with the three agencies. You'll have to thaw it when you are really applying for credit. Frank went a step further protecting his 401k retirement fund with a voice detection firewall.
"So that if any one were to get my information and attempt to phone my investment house and make changes or transfers, they couldn't do so because they could not recognize their voice," said Compagno.
He also downloaded the VIP Access app on his phone that gives him a new passcode number every 30 seconds to log onto his account.
"So that if you don't have that phone, or don't have that app with you, then you can not access the computer to get into that account. So it's a double, double safety standard," said Compagno.
While these steps may keep someone from opening credit in your name, they won't protect medical, criminal and governmental identity theft, like hitting your tax returns, Social Security benefits or getting medical insurance in your name.
Statement from Equifax:
“The critical factor on the data file is that it contains the names and numbers of all potentially impacted consumers. The data file likely contains a very limited number of names and numbers that do not connect to real people. But to reiterate, the key point is that every person potentially impacted is in the file. In addition, any other names and numbers not in the data file will return a message confirming that they are not impacted.”
Click below to see if your name is on the list. You do not have to enroll in the credit monitoring program if you don't want to.
VIP Access App Android:
FTC suggestions for protecting your identity: