Consumer Alert: Taking extra precautions after Equifax data breach

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -- Many people are nervous about the Equifax credit bureau data breach, but are people taking extra precautions?

Equifax's data breach potentially compromises the personal information of as many as 143 million Americans.

Consumer experts say it should be a wake up call to everyone.

"It's a reminder that consumers have to be very very vigilant [about] the information that is out there," said Frank Frassetto, Administrator of the Wisconsin Division of Consumer Protection.

In a poll by research firm SSRS, taken after the Equifax breach, 66 percent of people responding said they were concerned, but only 19 percent had taken any steps to find out if their personal information had been compromised.

The Administrator of the Wisconsin Division of Consumer Protection says everyone should actively monitor financial statements and credit reports.

"Go to annualcreditreport.com every four months and request a copy of your credit report, because that's one way you can see if credit actually has been taken out in their name and by law they're required, able to get a free credit report, so because we have 3 credit reporting agencies, instead of waiting 12 months every four months pick one and then the next four months pick another and keep rotating," said Frasseto.

Because one of those three is Equifax, it understandably makes people nervous to do any business with them and consumer experts say the hackers could wait for years to strike, which is why you have to stay on top of tracking your own credit.

Equifax announced this week it's offering free credit freezes until November 21.

The company will also refund fees to anyone who already paid for a credit freeze since September 7.

Freezing your credit file means no one can access it, not even you, without a PIN or passphrase. It makes it harder for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name.

To learn more about a credit freeze, click here.