COCOA,Fla. - A Brevard county man was among those affected by the Equifax data breach, and now, he his racing to protect his family after being hit by identity thieves.
Action 9 investigates water in gas at local stations
Action 9: Central Florida restaurants work to reopen after Hurricane Irma
Action 9: Beware of car repair companies that try to take over your…
Action 9: Temporary repair of Hurricane Irma damage vital to avoid…
Action 9 investigates home warranty company
The breach gives criminals weapons they can use to steal your identity and Action 9 found the stolen information can lead to even bigger scams.
It's a monster data breach, in which 6 in 10 adults' Social Security numbers and financial ID's were stolen.
“I was blown away to be perfectly honest,” James Goodwin said.
Near Cocoa, Goodwin verified his information had been hijacked in the Equifax raid.
Anyone can check at equifaxsecurity2017.com to find out if their data was stolen.
If you're a victim, Susan Grant, with Consumer Federation America, says there are things you can do.
“I strongly urge you put a freeze not only on your Equifax account which is free but also on the other credit reporting agencies, Experian and Transunion,” Grant said.
Goodwin froze all three bureau reports, for himself and his wife, so no one can open accounts in their names.
Last year, they were identity theft victims so this breach is alarming.
“They took out credit cards in her name, first time for $40,000,” Goodwin said of the previous theft.
Even with a credit freeze, the Equifax hit can be threatening, as con artists use that stolen information to fuel other schemes.
Scammers could also use the data to send you emails that appear to be from your bank or credit card company, urging you to click a link and verify your information. But that link downloads harmful software that steals your computer files and records key strokes, and that's just the beginning.
“With your Social Security number and other information someone might successfully be able to apply for a job or government benefits,” said Grant.
The data breach gives con men new information to use when filing phony tax returns to collect your refund.
“Consider the sensitivity of data that Equifax has. That's hacker gold,” said Goodwin.
Consumer advocates say be alert and suspect of any communication from a government agency or bank until it's verified.
Equifax is offering free credit monitoring for a year, even if your information wasn't stolen.
© 2018 Cox Media Group.