It has been marked as the worst data breach in US history. Attackers stole half the US population's Social Security numbers from Equifax this spring, but the company only notified people in September. 143 million people's name, social security number, birth dates, address and driver's license information has been compromised.
What did Equifax promise after the breach?
— A copy of your Equifax credit report.
— Automated alerts of key changes to your account files with Equifax and the other two major bureaus, Experian and TransUnion.
— Ability to lock and unlock your Equifax credit report.
— Scanning of suspicious websites to see if your Social Security number is found.
— $1 million worth of identity theft insurance, which is supposed to help pay for certain out-of-pocket expenses if your identity is ever stolen.
Data breaches and your taxes
Not all data breaches or computer hacks result in tax-related identity theft. It’s important to know what type of personal information was stolen.
If you’ve been a victim of a data breach, keep in touch with the company to learn what it is doing to protect you and follow the “Steps for victims of identity theft.” Data breach victims should submit a Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, only if your Social Security number has been compromised and your e-file return was rejected as a duplicate or IRS has informed you that you may be a victim of tax-related identity theft.
Steps to take if you become a victim
If you are a victim of identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission recommends these steps:
- File a complaint with the FTC at identitytheft.gov.
- Contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a ‘fraud alert’ on your credit records:
- Equifax, www.Equifax.com, 800-525-6285
- Experian, www.Experian.com, 888-397-3742
- TransUnion, www.TransUnion.com, 800-680-7289
- Contact your financial institutions, and close any financial or credit accounts opened without your permission or tampered with by identity thieves.
If your SSN is compromised and you know or suspect you are a victim of tax-related identity theft, the IRS recommends these additional steps:
- Respond immediately to any IRS notice; call the number provided.
- Complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, if your efiled return rejects because of a duplicate filing under your SSN or you are instructed to do so. Use a fillable form at IRS.gov, print, then attach the form to your return and mail according to instructions.
If you previously contacted the IRS and did not have a resolution, contact specialized assistance at 1-800-908-4490. There are teams available to assist you.