News of the recent Equifax breach left millions of people worried. What exactly happened and how can consumers protect themselves moving forward?
Host of HerMoney podcast Jean Chatzky shares her take on the national incident.
Chatzky broke it down in simpler terms.
"Essentially 143 million pieces of data, affecting half of all American adults, was stolen. We're talking about things like social security numbers, names, addresses, dates of birth... the sort of information that could be used to create a fully-formed identity. Somebody could pretend to be you and go apply for jobs, credit or tax refunds in your name."
She says a short-term way consumers can protect themselves is by checking their credit report at least three times a year. Click here to see how you can do that free of charge.
Your accounts' passwords are also critical. The longer and stronger your password is, the securer your account is. Making sure you've updated your security settings and completed any recent updates on your devices is helpful as well.
For the long term, Chatzky suggests putting a credit freeze on your files at the three major credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax.
"It may cost a few dollars to put it on and to lift it if you go through the process of applying for credit yourself. I think it's worth it. You may want to consider subscribing to a service like LifeLock, which provides credit monitoring and identity monitoring on the front end. If you do have a problem, it gives you people and resources to help you clean up the mess on the back end. It costs anywhere from $10-30 a month."