Protecting your identity after the Equifax data breach

If you were one of the many servicemembers and their families affected by the recent Equifax data breach, it is time for you to secure your identity. Thankfully, active-duty servicemembers and veterans have special tools at their disposal from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, like active duty alerts or a security freeze, to reduce the risk of identity theft.

Here is everything you need to know about the Equifax data breach:

1. The personal information of a reported 143 million people has been stolen, including many servicemembers.

2. Criminals with stolen information may attempt to use credit cards or open new accounts in your name. It can be hard to notice if you are a victim of identity theft until you review your reports or statements and see charges you didn’t make, or are contacted by a debt collector about a debt that you don’t recognize.

3. You should closely monitor your financial statements and credit reports. If you see anything out of the ordinary, no matter how small, you should take action immediately. To do so, you can:

• Review your free credit reports for signs of fraud or identity theft.

• Sign up for an active duty alert on your credit report.

• Consider placing a security freeze on your credit.

• Review any free credit monitoring services offered by the company affected by the data breach. Read the fine print, but never give your credit card information for a "free" product.

4. If you're run into problems taking these actions, you can submit a complaint to the CFPB online or by calling (855) 411-CFPB (2372).

5. For help handling financial challenges at every step of your military career check out the CFPB’s