Should you 'freeze' your credit report after Equifax's security breach?

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Last week, Equifax announced a massive data breach in its system that exposed the personal data of about 143 million Americans. The exposed data includes consumers' names, Social Security Numbers, birth dates, addresses, and, in some instances, driver's license numbers.

The Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection is urging Mainers to take steps to protect their credit and private information after the security breach at Equifax. In addition, credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 USA consumers, and certain credit dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 US consumers, were accessed. Typically, when data breaches happen hackers wait a while until they start making transactions with your information. Federal law requires each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies to give you one free credit report every 12 months if you request it.

One thing that Clark doesn't want you to do is call the Equifax help line listed on the company's data breach website.

There, you'll type in your last name and the last six digits of your social security number.

"Really? How many people have been affected by this?" It warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and will make it more hard for someone to open credit in your name.

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Equifax responded Wednesday to the arbitration clause issue, asserting that mandatory arbitration "will not apply to the free products offered in response to the cybersecurity incident or for claims related to the cybersecurity incident itself". Here's how you can protect yourself by initiating a credit freeze.

Experts said Equifax will likely pay to freeze your credit at their agency, but that isn't where you should stop. The website will tell you if your information was stolen. This is especially important if you've confirmed you're a victim of identity theft.

"A security freeze (also known as a credit freeze) locks your credit file so that no one can see your credit report or credit score unless you lift the freeze", the release said.

She says in addition to putting a fraud alert or a freeze on your credit bureau account, you need to start checking your other financial accounts on a regular basis, which means your credit cards, checking and savings accounts.