FREEHOLD, NJ – The Monmouth County Division of Consumer Affairs encourages residents to take action to protect themselves in the wake of the breach at Equifax impacting approximately 143 million people.

“It is important to monitor bank and credit card statements regularly and every consumer is entitled to a free copy of their credit report every 12 months,” said Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry, liaison to the County’s Division of Consumer Affairs. “Even if you were not directly affected by this breach, it serves as an important reminder to be vigilant of your accounts and proactive against identity and credit theft.”

Consumers can go to www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, click on the “Potential Impact” button and enter their last name and last six digits of their social security number to find out if their information was accessed during the breach.

“There are several steps that you can take to protect yourself from potential credit theft,” Consumer Affairs Director Annmarie DeVito said. “The first step is to visit the website established by Equifax to check if you may have been directly affected by the breach.”

The Consumer Federation of America offers the following suggestions for anyone who would like to know what they can do right now to protect themselves:

  • Consider a security freeze. Putting a freeze on your credit file will prohibit anyone (including you) from applying for a loan. If you choose to do this, you will need to contact all three of the major reporting agencies.
  • Get a copy of your free credit report. Federal law allows you to get a free copy of your credit report each year.
  • Check your credit card bills closely. Look through each transaction on your account for suspicious activity. If your credit card has not been lost, but your credit card has been used without your authorization, you cannot be held liable for the charges.
  • Be extra careful about incoming offers and suspicious emails. Never click on suspicious links and do not give personal information unless you can verify who is asking for it and why.
  • Protect your email account. Consider strengthening your password and take advantage of “two-factor” authentication when it is offered.

For further information, or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Monmouth County Division of Consumer Affairs by calling 732-431-7900 or email consumeraffairs@co.monmouth.nj.us. The office is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.