The Equifax data breach of 2017 has left many Americans feeling like victims with no control over their own sensitive information, reeling and scrambling to protect themselves. As the dust settles on one of the most significant leaks of confidential information of this age, those affected try to sift through the debris and determine what action will really help them protect their funds and identities. Immediately following the announcement of the Equifax disaster, the phrase “credit freeze” was uttered on mainstream news outlets by proclaimed financial experts offering advice. A credit freeze was presented as a solution to the problem of compromised sensitive information; however, it is not the single, definitive answer to protecting one’s identity after the breach. For those impacted by the data leak, here are the proper steps to take, in addition to freezing your credit, to safeguard your money and identity and to avoid becoming a victim for the second time.

The Truth About a Credit Freeze

First of all, requesting a credit freeze is a good move; it just isn’t the only move required of you to ensure your safety. It’s usually free to do, so it’s a reasonable place to begin, but freezing your credit only means that no new accounts can be opened in your name by you or by anyone else. This ensures that no new credit cards or car loans will spring up on your credit file, but the opening of new accounts is one of the least likely forms of identity theft to occur, with only four percent of U.S. victims reporting such activity. Essentially, a credit freeze can help a little, but it is far from a security solution.

Most Common Consequences of Compromised Data

If the opening of new accounts is one of the least likely effects of compromised data, what exactly is it that you should be worried about? The most common threat is the fraudulent use of an existing account, or the attempted use of an existing account like a bank account or credit card. More than 85 percent of American victims of identity theft have reported the theft or attempted theft of funds available through these kinds of accounts. A credit freeze would not have prevented attacks like these, but there are other steps available to you that can lower the odds of this happening.

Additional Credit & Identity Protective Measures

An event like the Equifax breach can shake the confidence of even the most confident of consumers, but it is important not to believe everything you hear. A credit freeze, though helpful, will not save you from the threat of identity theft. The truth is, there is no one-stop solution, but a series of actions can definitely lessen the likelihood of a compromise of your funds and identity. Equifax victimized you by not keeping your sensitive data safe, but by taking these actions to defend yourself, you take back control.