Amid the massive Equifax breach, numerous relatives have asked me about the potential implications (they're big). They've also asked me what steps to take to reduce the resulting risk of identity theft.
Here are the short answers.
First, freeze your credit at the three major credit reporting agencies. Use these links:
Benefit: Once you freeze credit, the bureaus are not supposed to release your credit report to any company except the ones that already have you as a customer, according to the New York Times.
But what if you need to apply for credit? You can thaw your freeze every time you want to apply for new credit by using a personal identification number that the companies give you -- which you absolutely should not lose, according to The New York Times. The process is annoying, but it takes only about 15 minutes to do this at all three of the big agencies, the Times says.
Monitor your credit: Check credit reports for free every four months at annualcreditreport.com, The Times recommends.