Equifax data breach and credit freeze: Beware these 3 scams
As if an Equifax data breach affecting more than 140 million customers wasn't unsettling enough, consumers must be doubly vigilant following news of the massive mishap, experts warn. Even if you were wise enough to put an immediate fraud alert or credit freeze on your credit files, con artists are likely to go into hyperdrive finding new ways to take advantage of the hack and the publicity surrounding it.
"Don't panic. But be vigilant," said Susan Grant, director of consumer protection and privacy at the Consumer Federation of America. "With this breach, criminals have everything they need to victimize you."
Here are three cons that experts believe will become prevalent in the aftermath of the.
Imposter scams (even after you've initiated a credit freeze)
The Federal Trade Commission warned Thursday that it expected a new wave of imposter scams, with con artists posing as representatives of Equifax "calling to verify your account information." Given that Equifax is providing free credit monitoring and credit freezes in wake of its data breach, the call may sound legitimate, the agency warned. But don't ever provide any privy information over the phone.
The purpose of this con is to get you to provide private information -- including some of the information that was leaked in the breach -- to a caller or via email. Even if your information was leaked, not all fraudsters are likely to have access to it.
Providing information to a new con artist over the phone simply increases the chance that you'll be victimized. Of course, if your data wasn't part of the Equifax attack, giving it out over the phone gives you a chance to join your friends and neighbors in having your data exposed on the dark web.
Information about the Equifax breach, including a simple tool to tell you whether the company believes your data was accessed in the breach, can be found on the company's web site. Even if this tool indicates your data was spared, you can sign up for free credit monitoring for a year and Equifax will also waive any costs entailed in freezing your credit report, if you act within the next two months.
Tax identity theft that could rob you of your IRS refund
The Internal Revenue Service has been fighting tax identity theft for years. These scams involve criminals getting victims' names, addresses and Social Security numbers to file fraudulent tax refund claims. The agency cites data breaches as one of the main ways that con artists get the relevant information to pull off tax identity theft.
Read more at CBSNews.com.