More than three million Tennesseans had personal information stolen thanks to a massive hack at Equifax, one of the world's largest credit reporting agencies, according to Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery.
"This is something we have to take seriously," said Vanderbilt University Professor of Computer Science Doug Schmidt. "This is a problem we’re all facing now across the board, whether it be an Equifax breach or other breaches we have. We have to take steps to protect ourselves, our credit ratings, and our privacy."
Schmidt said it's crucial everyone take time to find out if they're a victim.
To do so, go to www.equifaxsecurity2017.com and click on "Potential Impact." Equifax will ask you to enter your last name and the last six numbers of your social security number.
Schmidt said he understands why some may be hesitant to enter that information online following a massive breach, but choosing inaction could come back to bite you even a decade later.
"The con men, the people who stole the information, can afford to take a very longterm view to this," Schmidt said. "It may not be this month. It may be five, ten years down the road because most of this personal information doesn't change."
If Equifax verifies you have been impacted, they'll walk you through steps to apply for one year of free credit monitoring.
Schmidt recommended you do that, but he also said going one step further is smart.
"There's ways of being able to call up Equifax, Experion, and Transunion and having them put a freeze on your credit," Schmidt said. "That doesn't mean you can't use your credit card, it just means people can't open accounts in your name."
Credit freezes can come with a small fee and they're often time consuming to set up.
But Schmidt said a credit freeze guarantees only you have control over lines of credit in your name.
He also recommended carefully monitoring your credit card statements for suspicious activity.