If you’re reading this, chances are you were affected by the 2017 Equifax breach. And if you’re employed, that likelihood increases to around 80 percent. In total, nearly 150 million Americans had their personal data compromised.
Equifax initially offered a subscription to TrustedID Premier, a credit monitoring service. However, that offer expired on January 31 — and with it, the limited protection Equifax temporarily granted victims.
Let’s take a closer look at what the bureau’s decision means for those affected.
How does Equifax’s decision impact victims?
Denied mortgages. Fraudulent loans. Stolen tax refunds.
These are just a few of the issues faced by victims of the Equifax breach. And unfortunately, the fallout may be far from over. Unlike the temporary credit monitoring Equifax offered, there is no expiration date for identity theft. Often, thieves wait years before fully exploiting stolen data.
There are also immediate issues victims need to contend with following Equifax’s move to drop complimentary monitoring. If a victim used TrustedID Premier to lock their Equifax credit report, those locks were automatically lifted when the service expired on January 31. Making matters worse, many victims don’t realize they’ll need to relock their accounts.
The truth about “credit monitoring”
In reality, the protection offered by Equifax left victims vulnerable to several forms of identity theft.
That’s because TrustedID Premier functioned primarily as a traditional credit monitoring service, with a few exceptions: It offered the Equifax Credit Report Lock, an insurance policy, and a Social Security Number Monitoring feature.
Traditional credit monitoring tools leave breach victims susceptible to risks of our digital era. While there are many reasons why these services fall short of being an identity protection benefit, here are a few possible shortcomings:
- No robust privacy protection tools
- Alerts that aren’t real time
- No active search of the dark web
- If the service is free, it may sell users’ personal data to credit card companies and other lenders
- No monitoring of social media for signs of hijacking
- If identity theft insurance is offered, it’s often limited
- No alerts for non–credit based account changes
- No notifying users of risky financial transactions
However, the biggest problem may be that traditional credit monitoring services simply alert victims that a problem exists. They do very little, if anything, to actively help users solve problems. Luckily, an increasing number of organizations are offering employees access to comprehensive identity protection.
So, what now?
Good news! If you’re reading this, you more than likely already have PrivacyArmor to protect your identity. We will be here to assist should the worst happen. If you haven’t already, be sure to log into your online portal and activate all the features on your plan. You can also take a look at our guide, Protecting Your Privacy: Best Practices for Mobile, Social, and Search Settings, to learn more about how to browse more securely and privately.