After Equifax, Phoenix-area financial expert says freezing credit not enough

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Hackers ripped off a lot of damaging information, putting your identity at risk. They can do a lot more than open up a credit card in your name. Now, experts say you need to go a step further than freezing your credit report. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Hackers ripped off a lot of damaging information, putting your identity at risk. They can do a lot more than open up a credit card in your name. Now, experts say you need to go a step further than freezing your credit report. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Hackers ripped off a lot of damaging information, putting your identity at risk. They can do a lot more than open up a credit card in your name. Now, experts say you need to go a step further than freezing your credit report.

"These people, they're not greedy, they're vulnerable," said Ted Evertsen. As a police officer and special agent with the Attorney General's office, Evertsen investigated elder fraud and abuse for 40 years. 

[RELATED: Giant Equifax data breach: 143 million people could be affected]

"So many of our seniors are becoming isolated for reasons beyond their control," he said.

This Equifax breach affects 143 million people, but as a volunteer with the Maricopa Elder Abuse Prevention Alliance, Evertsen said he worries most about the impact on seniors.

"Many times they've got excellent credit, so it's very easy and advantageous to a criminal to steal their identity," he said.

Personal finance consultant Mike Sullivan said we still don't know what information hackers got from Equifax, but we know in general what information credit agencies collect.

[RELATED: How to find out if you're affected by the Equifax hack]

"They collected information where you live or you've lived in the past, your employers, public record information, if you've ever filed for bankruptcy, if there's a tax lien on your home," Sullivan said.

He said the thieves can now go shopping for health insurance or a medicare plan in your name. 

"They may want to use it in order to take your medicare account so they can have healthcare and have you pay for it or the government pay for it in your name," Sullivan said. "[They] can potentially get ahold of any insurance information, it just so happens Medicare is the easiest one to get, because Medicare unwisely uses your social security number as your ID number."

He said the thieves can also get a driver's license in your name.

"Let's say they get picked up for DUI; if they don't show up, and they probably aren't going to show up, the police are going to show up at your house," Sullivan said. "You're likely to find yourself accused of some kind of criminal defense and your only defense is, somebody stole my ID."

As far as what to do now, Sullivan said don't just stop after that credit freeze. Request your driving record from the local DMV - it costs a few bucks. And regularly check your healthcare statements and bank records.

"You simply have to be vigilant and watch, because there is no one place where you can go and say, protect my identity," Sullivan said.

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Lindsey ReiserLindsey Reiser is a Scottsdale native and an award-winning multimedia journalist.

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Lindsey Reiser

Lindsey returned to the Valley in 2010 after covering border and immigration issues in El Paso, TX. While in El Paso she investigated public corruption, uncovered poor business practices, and routinely reported on the violence across the border.

Lindsey feels honored to have several awards under her belt, including a Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award, Hearst Journalist Award, and several National Broadcast Education Association Awards.

Lindsey is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, and she currently serves as a mentor to journalism students. She studied for a semester in Alicante, Spain and also earned a degree in Spanish at ASU.

She is proud to serve as a member of United Blood Services’ Community Leadership Council, a volunteer advisory board for the UBS of Arizona.

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