-- EDIT FOR BREAKING NEWS--
Due to the Equifax breach, http://www.annualcreditreport.com will now allow you to run all three of your reports and provide opportunities for you to dispute adverse or incorrect items, for free, even if you have already used them within the last year. It will allow you to see your reports from the three major agencies. Plus, the Equifax report includes a link to Credit Karma which will give you your FICO score at no charge.
According to this article:
Equifax breached, up to 143 million SSNx and DOBs stolen, all Americans offered credit monitoring
Massive multinational credit reporting company Equifax has been breached by hackers, with up to 143 million U.S. residents having their names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers stolen from the company’s databases.
They direct you to this address to enroll in their identity theft protection by going to https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/
I believe the answer is that to answer the first part of your question(protect myself) is to get credit protection so you will be notified when new credit is taken in your name.
For Non-US customers: If you do not have a SSN, call 1-866-447-7559. The call center is open every day from 7a.m. to 1 a.m. Eastern time.
You can use http://www.annualcreditreport.com/ to look at your credit reports. They are not limiting it to annual due to the breach at Equifax.
HINT: While you do that, and while you are in the TransUnion and Equifax reports you will have the option to DISPUTE adverse items.
I always suggest that people dispute everything adverse. That puts the onus on the other parties to produce evidence to TransUnion within 30 days attesting to the validity of the adverse item.
You would be surprised how many will simply drop off your report after doing this.
Here is a direct way to get to TransUnion:
--> Once they have removed the adverse items, it is communicated to the other bureaus.
It is amazing how well it works. It can raise your credit score significantly.
You asked about risk aversion (not making your life miserable), so here are two risks to consider:
The risk of doing nothing about it:
Were you impacted by the Equifax breach? You risk financial chaos by doing nothing (MarketWatch)
- Financial identity theft
- Criminal Identity Theft
- Many victims don’t have the time and money to sue
- Your data may have already been breached
The (now-nullified) risk regarding class-action lawsuits:
Equifax TrustedID customers waive their rights to a class-action lawsuit
created a website that would allow consumers to check if they were affected. Customers who were told their personal information may have been impacted were given the following message: “Click the button below to continue your enrollment in TrustedID Premier.”
There was one worry: Those who signed up to this TrustedID Premier security monitoring service for a year appeared to waive their rights to participate in a class-action lawsuit.
That risk has now been clarified as non-existent:
Consumer Backlash Spurs Equifax To Drop 'Ripoff Clause' In Offer To Security Hack Victims
Direct quote from Equifax:
As it turns out, EquiFax neglected to apply patches to their Apache servers which may have caused to happen in the first place:
Failure to patch two-month-old bug led to massive Equifax breach
"Equifax has been intensely investigating the scope of the intrusion with the assistance of a leading, independent cybersecurity firm to determine what information was accessed and who has been impacted," company officials wrote in an update posted online. "We know that criminals exploited a US website application vulnerability. The vulnerability was Apache Struts CVE-2017-5638. We continue to work with law enforcement as part of our criminal investigation, and have shared indicators of compromise with law enforcement."
Equifax hackers stole data for 200k credit cards from transaction history
Thus, there is every reason to expect multiple lawsuits.