Clark Howard: Everything you need to know about the Equifax data breach

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ATLANTA - Channel 2 Action News anchor Craig Lucie hosted a special 1-hour Q&A with Channel 2 Consumer Adviser Clark Howard Monday morning to answer YOUR questions on the Equifax data breach.

Questions came in on a variety of topics, and Clark Howard was extremely passionate throughout. He gave advice on protecting credit, shared tips on which services to use and even spoke directly to Equifax executives and the company’s CEO.

At one point, Clark Howard pointed directly into the camera and said, “Equifax, you are lame!”

It’s important to note that we reached out to Equifax and offered them the opportunity to join the show. They declined.


VIDEO CLIPS FROM THE SHOW:


Below are questions and Clark Howard’s answers to some of the most-talked about topics.

What are we dealing with here?

“This is the ugliest data breach in the history of the digital era. There is nothing else that has ever happened that is like this. There have been some very large breach of medical providers, and Yahoo had the largest world-wide breach. But the information gathered was never as broad or as deep as this. 143 million Americans, this is nearly 2 out of 3 American adults with a credit file.”

Should I check to see if my name is on the Equifax list?

“Don’t waste your time going to Equifax’s lame website to see if you’re one of the 143 million people. Go ahead and take the proactive steps that I’ve recommended you do. Set up the ability to monitor your credit at Credit Karma for free, and then set the credit freezes in place.”

Will freezing my credit negatively affect my score?

“If you freeze your credit, it has no impact at all on your existing credit and has zero impact on your credit score. The freezing your credit will simply prevent a criminal from opening a new account as if they were you. That’s the whole purpose of freezing your credit.”

How do I freeze my credit?

“The first thing you should do is go to Credit Karma and sign up for their self-monitor. Freeze your credit with each of the three credit bureaus HERE.”

What form do I need to mail Equifax?

“Don’t mail a form to Equifax, do it online.” 

What about paying to freeze credit?

“It’s idiotic and mean-spirited that we have to pay a fee to lock down our own credit when we never gave these companies permission to build these documents on us. We never gave them permission to sell off our information over and over again. They created the hazard for us, both economic and moral. And now we’re left with the mess to clean up. And we have to pay to clean up their mess! How insane is it?”

How has Equifax handled the breach?

“They have been tone deaf. They don’t know how to handle this because they don’t care about us. (It’s) new territory for them.”

What do you think they need to do?

“I went straight to the CEO. I said, ‘I want an interview with the CEO.’ You always say your customers and then consumers, like we’re not your customers. Which says something about your mentality at that building. You do not value me. You don’t value any consumer. You look at us as just data points. And that is not OK. And the fact that you’re hiding behind your fortress, with all your security, and you won’t address the American people. I don’t care who it is, get on camera and tell your story.”

What will happen in the next year or two?

“There’s going to be a role for Congress to play, and a role for other American companies to play.”

How long do you think this could last?

“These are the keys to the kingdom. These criminals have everything they need to take over your identity, and to do things as if they were you for the rest of your life.”

What is the message for Equifax?

“You (have to) keep our data secure, and you didn’t do it! Equifax failed you. Equifax failed the American people!”

TEAM CLARK HOWARD’S CONSUMER ACTION CENTER

Libby Godwin, a volunteer with Team Clark Howard’s Consumer Action Center, said the center has been flooded with concerned callers.

“I’ve been here for 5 and a half years, and it’s never been so busy,” Godwin told Lucie.

CAC Director Lori Silverman said the increase in calls is “unprecedented.”

“We’ve had over 1,000 calls per day,” she said. “We have a 100 percent phone use, one call at a time.”

CLICK HERE to visit Clark Howard's official website, Clark.com.

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