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Iowa AG: Act now after massive Equifax data breach

FILE - This July 21, 2012, file photo shows Equifax Inc., offices in Atlanta. On Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, Equifax said it has made changes to address customer complaints since it disclosed a week earlier that it exposed vital data on about 143 million Americans. Equifax has come under fire from members of Congress, state attorneys general, and people who are getting conflicting answers about whether their information was stolen. Equifax is trying again to clarify language about people’s right to sue, and said Monday it has made changes to address customer complaints. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart, File)

Iowa's Attorney General is encouraging Iowans to be proactive about protecting their personal information after the massive Equifax data breach that affects 143 million Americans.

Iowa AG Tom Miller says nearly 1.1 million Iowans' Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some cases, driver’s license numbers and credit card numbers was exposed by the breach that was disclosed last week.

“This data breach is astonishing, not only because of the number of consumers that it impacts, but also because of the key personal information that it exposed,” Attorney General Tom Miller said in a release. “Unfortunately, a criminal who gets a hold of this kind of personal information really hits the identity theft jackpot, and I’m concerned about the potential long-term impact this could have on countless consumers here in Iowa and across the country.”

Equifax says there has been no evidence of unauthorized activity involving the personal information that leaked.

Miller is encouraging all Iowans to check the website Equifax established to see if the breach exposed their personal information. Equifax is offering free credit report monitoring for one year, regardless if your information was exposed.

Consumers with questions can also call an Equifax breach call center at 866-447-7559 from 6 a.m. to midnight.

The Iowa Attorney General's Office is investigating the breach.

Here are some tips from the Iowa Attorney General's Office for handling identity theft:

  • Request and review your credit reports from all three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). You can obtain each one for free once a year through a single website: www.annualcreditreport.com . You can choose to obtain all three at once, or you can stagger and rotate them throughout the year (one report from a different agency every four months).
  • Consider placing a security freeze on your credit report. A security freeze locks out businesses from checking your credit report prior to opening a new account in your name. You can allow a credit check to proceed by providing a Personal Identification Number, and can stop the freeze at any time. You must contact all three credit reporting agencies separately for a credit freeze (one for each agency). The fee is $10 per agency for consumers who are not identity theft victims. Equifax announced it will waive security freeze fees for 30 days.
  • Consider an initial fraud alert. If you suspect or confirm that someone stole your identity, an initial fraud alert can make it harder for an identity thief to open more accounts in your name. An initial fraud alert requires a business to verify your identity before issuing credit in your name. You only need to contact one credit reporting agency about an initial fraud alert, and that agency will notify the other two.
  • Monitor your accounts. Review your statements and report any activity that is suspicious.
  • Be wary of breach-related scams. Do not provide or “confirm” personal information to a caller who claims the call is related to the data breach, even if caller-ID information appears legitimate. Be wary of emails, which can be fake but look authentic, and be especially wary of clicking on links, opening attachments, or entering information on website addresses provided through emails or pop-up ads.

Consumers with questions or complaints can contact the Consumer Protection Division through our website at www.iowaattorneygeneral.gov , email us at consumer@iowa.gov , or call 515-281-5926 or toll-free at 888-777-4590 (outside the Des Moines metro area only).

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