Equifax data breach: 5 steps to take to protect yourself

DENVER — Colorado’s attorney general is warning consumers that the Equifax data breach is “very serious” and urged people to take some basic steps to protect their personal information.

The data breach might have impacted as many as 143 million Americans,nearly half the population of the country.

RELATED: What happened and the personal information that might have been accessed

“This is a very serious data breach,” Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said Thursday.

Coffman advised consumers to take precautions.

  • Contact your bank, credit union, or credit card company if you believe any of your accounts may have been compromised. Some institutions may suggest closing the compromised accounts, while others may have fraud protection programs that will closely monitor the accounts for fraudulent usage.
  • Place a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit report and obtain a copy – Contact one of the three credit reporting bureaus to notify them that you may be a victim of identity theft and would like to place a fraud alert on your credit. The contacted credit reporting bureau will subsequently notify the other two bureaus and place an alert on your behalf. Victims of Identity Theft can place fraud alerts and credit freezes, as well as obtain copies of their credit report, for free in Colorado.
  • Request a copy of your credit report as soon as possible in order to identify what is on your report before any potential theft has occurred.
  • Pay extra attention to your bank statements, credit card statements, and even medical or insurance bills to see if any unknown or unusual charges appear.
  • Be wary of any unusual mail or emails – If the identity thief is using your information to open up new credit you may receive notifications about ‘your’ loan application, new credit card, or even an overdue payment on an account you do not recognize.

Equifax has set up a tool to see if personal information might have been accessed.

RELATED: Enroll in free ID theft protection and credit monitoring from Equifax

Anyone who believes they are a victim of identity theft can call the Colorado Bureau of Investigation at 1-855-443-3489.