5 million Georgians affected by data breach

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An attack on Equifax exposed information like social security numbers of almost 143 million Americans.

The Iowa Attorney General's office is urging on Iowans to "act now" following a massive data breach involving the credit reporting company Equifax. Credit card numbers for 209,000 consumers were stolen as well as personal information used in disputes from 182,000 people and security questions used for such activities as resetting passwords.

Then, after announcing the breach, Equifax demanded customers give up their right to sue the company in exchange for free credit-monitoring services - and then charged them to put a freeze on their credit.

In light of Equifax's security breach, which exposed million's of American's data, what are your options to protect yourself? If you are a victim of identity theft, Minnesota law allows you to place a credit freeze for free.

But a credit freeze is problematic for people who need to keep their credit report open as they need to secure a loan, perhaps buy a home or a auto.

"Anyone that is trying to open your account or get an inquiry about your account, there's a blockage to them being able to do that without you giving permission", he said.

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Equifax, one of the three largest credit bureaus, stoked customer anger during the past six days in one bungled p.r. move after another.

The Commerce website offers practical tips on what you can do to prevent identity theft and protect your sensitive personal information from being misused.

If the message saying your information has been compromised comes up, what do you do? "I want to know exactly how that happened, but more immediately, I am concerned about the confusion that you have caused for consumers".

"The second thing you really need to do is to start monitoring your credit more". See the California Attorney General's Identity Theft Victim Checklist at www.oag.ca.gov/idtheft/information-sheets. "Make sure you're getting fraud alerts from your credit card company, from your bank, consider putting a credit freeze on your account", Page Castrodale said, who is a financial security expert with the Charlotte Better Business Bureau.

If you need further assistance, contact the Equifax dedicated call center at 866-447-7559.