Equifax Data Breach: What you should do, what legislators want to do and what the FTC is doing

Posted at 6:00 AM, Sep 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-15 06:00:05-04

The odds are pretty good you're affected by the massive Equifax hack. Now, as an Ohio senator calls for accountability, we’ve confirmed the Federal Trade Commission has launched an investigation into the company and scammers are trying to profit from your pain.

"We do know there's quite a large black market for sensitive information," Jon Miller Steiger, from the Cleveland office of the Federal Trade Commission, gave us a warning about scammers already calling people saying they're with Equifax wanting to supposedly assist you after the hack.


Lifelock benefiting from Equifax data breach

How to check and see if your information was affected by the Equifax data breach

"It would be awful if the result of this hack is not only is your information out there but now you accidentally give it directly to a scammer,” said Steiger. Be careful of fake websites or ads that pop up claiming they want to help you.

One way to protect your accounts is a credit freeze. Nothing new can be opened up in your name but Steiger warns if you're in the market for a new car, home, or loan then the deal won’t go through. "If you have a freeze in place, the legitimate companies that you're dealing with won't be able to access the information that they need,” he told us.

It will cost you $5 for that freeze. It can be temporary, but it might cost you each time you use a freeze.

Also, because the effects of this breach will be felt for a long time, take advantage of free credit reports you're entitled to from the 3 main reporting agencies Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. "So you can time it out. You can get one now. Wait a month and get another one. Wait another couple months and get the 3rd," said Steiger.

Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown has been vocal about the need to investigate the Equifax breach affecting as many as 143 million people. "Equifax simply hasn't been held accountable," said Senator Brown. "We're asking the Justice Department and the bank regulators to take a look at this to see if it's worthy of criminal prosecution."

He wants to know if there was any wrong-doing with company executives. "They dumped their stock. They need to answer that. They need to answer why their security isn't better," the senator told us.

At one point, if you took the Equifax free credit monitoring after the hack, you agreed not to sue the company. Equifax has changed that verbiage and now you can use it without giving up your legal rights.

"It's time for Equifax to step up and do it right," Senator Brown said.