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Color of Money: After the Equifax massive data breach, so many questions

Michelle Singletary on

WASHINGTON -- I finally made it in.

After numerous checks of my email, spam folder and a very unhelpful call with a customer representative, I was able to register for the free credit monitoring service offered by Equifax following its massive data breach, which affected 143 million consumers.

Through its service TrustedID Premier, I can view my Equifax credit report as well as my files at the other two major bureaus, Experian and TransUnion. I can also lock my Equifax file for the time being, which hopefully will prevent identity thieves from applying for credit in my name.

But do I feel safe?

Not at all.

There are still so many other ways that fraudsters can use the information stolen from Equifax -- including my address and Social Security, driver's license and credit card numbers -- to cause chaos in my financial life.

The monitoring service won't protect me from someone using my information to file a fraudulent tax return. And because a freeze or credit lock still allows companies you have an existing relationship with to pull your credit files, I remain vulnerable.

This latest data breach adds to a long list of others that have put millions of consumers in jeopardy of becoming identity-theft victims. So it's no wonder many of you have a lot of questions. Email me at colorofmoney@washpost.com and I'll try to get answers.

Here are some queries I've already received from readers, which I ran by an Equifax spokesperson.

J. Lindley from Las Vegas wrote, "I have not succeeded in several attempts to enroll in Equifax's free monitoring. I don't want to resort to freezing my accounts, as I've been working to get a mortgage, among other things that require credit reports. And the hassle of freezing and unfreezing seems insurmountable, given that I'm a single person who works 10 hours or more a day at a job that gives me little downtime to make personal calls. For now, I'm sticking to checking all my banking accounts daily."

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