What to do after the Equifax data breach?
If you're an American living abroad you have already gone through trials and tribulations trying to manage bank accounts, taxes, passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates, and the other ridiculous logistical bureaucratic steps that create a life on paper in multiple countries.
Well...guess what? As responsible citizens of the world, we also must monitor our credit from afar lest someone steal our identity. Something that is entirely more likely to happen after the lovely Equifax data breach.
No need to double check if you've been affected or not because since you live abroad, you aren't using your US credit anyway.
I hate having to worry about identity theft and really don't have the time to paranoically check my US bank accounts for hackers, so, I went through the automated telephone system and froze my credit in all three places.
How to freeze your credit
Call all three of the phone numbers below (the Transunion number disconnected on me twice, which was super fun). You'll need your US social security number handy and a US mailing address that is associated with your identity and where you can receive the confirmation codes that the companies will send you:
You'll need your US social security number handy and a US mailing address that is associated with your identity and where you can receive the confirmation codes that the companies will send you.
They are all automated services so don't worry about talking to a real human being:
- TransUnion: 1-888-909-8872
- Equifax: 1-800-349-9960
- Experian: 1 888 397 3742
What if I don't have a US address anymore?
Solution: monitor your credit every 4 months
Request your free credit report from one agency every 4 months to spread out the impact on your credit score. You can receive your free credit report every 12 months from each of the companies listed above using annualcreditreport.com.
Freeze your child's credit
If your child has a US social security number, then go ahead and put a freeze on their credit as well. TransUnion requires a 6-digit pin number of your choosing, so be sure to put that in a safe place so they can unfreeze their credit when the time is right.
Going through the same steps you did to freeze your credit will help prevent any potential identity theft from happening before your child turns 18.
All in all, freezing our credit took about 20 minutes and was a little more than a pain in the butt, but doing so helps me sleep better at night knowing that someone isn't buying a new house in my name. Only I get to do that, thank you very much.
Here's a lovely Reddit thread that provides more discussion points on the matter and basically states that every adult who has ever lived in the US is most likely affected.