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ATLANTA - WSB-TV News anchor Craig Lucie hosted a special one-hour Q&A with consumer adviser Clark Howard Monday morning to answer questions on the Equifax data breach.
Questions came in on a variety of topics, and Howard was extremely passionate throughout. He gave advice on protecting credit, shared tips on which services to use and even spoke directly to Equifax executives and the company’s CEO.
At one point, Howard pointed directly into the camera and said, “Equifax, you are lame!”
It’s important to note that WSB-TV reached out to Equifax and offered company officials the opportunity to join the show. They declined.
Below are questions and Howard’s answers to some of the most-talked about topics.
What are we dealing with here?
“This is the ugliest data breach in the history of the digital era. There is nothing else that has ever happened that is like this. There have been some very large (breaches) of medical providers, and Yahoo had the largest worldwide breach. But the information gathered was never as broad or as deep as this. 143 million Americans, this is nearly two out of three American adults with a credit file.”
Will freezing my credit negatively affect my score?
“If you freeze your credit, it has no impact at all on your existing credit, and has zero impact on your credit score ... Freezing your credit will simply prevent a criminal from opening a new account as if they were you. That’s the whole purpose of freezing your credit.”
How do I freeze my credit?
“The first thing you should do is go to Credit Karma and sign up for their self-monitor. Freeze your credit with each of the three credit bureaus HERE.”
What form do I need to mail Equifax?
“Don’t mail a form to Equifax, do it online.”
What about paying to freeze credit?
“It’s idiotic and mean-spirited that we have to pay a fee to lock down our own credit when we never gave these companies permission to build these documents on us. We never gave them permission to sell off our information over and over again. They created the hazard for us, both economic and moral. And now we’re left with the mess to clean up. And we have to pay to clean up their mess! How insane is it?”
How has Equifax handled the breach?
“They have been tone deaf. They don’t know how to handle this because they don’t care about us. (It’s) new territory for them.”
What will happen in the next year or two?
“There’s going to be a role for Congress to play, and a role for other American companies to play.”
How long do you think this could last?
“These are the keys to the kingdom. These criminals have everything they need to take over your identity, and to do things as if they were you for the rest of your life.”
TEAM CLARK HOWARD’S CONSUMER ACTION CENTER
Libby Godwin, a volunteer with Team Clark Howard’s Consumer Action Center, said the center has been flooded with concerned callers.
“I’ve been here for 5 and a half years and it’s never been so busy,” Godwin told WSB-TV.
CAC Director Lori Silverman said the increase in calls is “unprecedented.”
“We’ve had over 1,000 calls per day,” she said. “We have a 100 percent phone use one call at a time.”
Click here to visit Clark Howard's official website, Clark.com.