Equifax Data Breach Update

By now you’ve heard of the recent Equifax data breach that took place last month. It has recently been announced by Equifax that an additional 2.5 million American consumers were also impacted by the data breach. This brings the total possible victims to 145.5 million.

Our friends at Fairpoint Wealth Management have helped us put together a plan to determine if a) your information was compromised and b) what steps you should take next if you were affected.

What Happened?

145.5 million American consumers personal information was exposed in a data breach at Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit reporting agencies. That’s roughly 45% of all Americans.

According to Equifax, the breach lasted from mid-May through July. Because of the “quality” of personal data that has been accessed and stolen, this breach is HUGE.

Compromised Equifax Data includes:
  • People’s Names
  • Social Security Numbers
  • Birth Dates
  • Addresses
  • Some Driver’s License Numbers
  • 209,000 Credit Card Numbers

Have You Checked Your Name and Social Security Number?

Equifax has set up a link for consumers to determine if your information may have been exposed. We recommend that you see if your information has been compromised.

In order to determine this, please click on the link: https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/am-i-impacted/

Once here, you will need to enter your last name and the last six digits of your social security number. You will be immediately advised whether or not your information was stolen.

What Should You Do If You’re a Victim?

Check Your Credit Reports

Check your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You are allowed to receive one free report per year from each of the three credit agencies. You can obtain these by visiting

https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action.

Our recommendation is to pull your credit report from one credit agency every 4 months. Equifax-September 2017, TransUnion-January 2018,  Experian-May 2018. This will allow you to continually review your credit report every 4 months, rather than once per year.

Consider Credit Freezes

Consider placing a credit freeze at each of the three credit reporting bureaus. This makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. Keep in mind that a credit freeze won’t prevent a thief from making chargers to your existing accounts.

To freeze one’s credit, you need to contact each of the three credit reporting bureaus. A freeze will last until you remove it. There’s typically a fee of $2-$10 to freeze or unfreeze your report. We strongly recommend that you freeze your credit if you are a victim.

Set frauf alerts on your reports if a freeze is inconvenient.

To initiate your credit freeze via an online application please refer to the following links:

Trans Union – https://www.transunion.com/equifax-data-breach-faqs

Experian – https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html

Equifax – https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp

Credit Monitoring Service

Use a credit monitoring service such as Equifax’s program called TrustedID Premier. Equifax is offering one year free of credit monitoring at all three credit bureaus. www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/enroll/

Remember, credit monitoring is only a medium to alert you that someone has made an inquiry to your credit or that someone has applied for credit in your name. While helpful in many ways, it does not prevent identity theft from occurring.

File Your Taxes Early

As soon as you have the tax information you need, file your taxes before a scammer can. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. Respond right away to letters from the IRS.

Call Your Bank

We recommend that you call your bank and tell them not to approve any new credit lines without your direct authorization.

Questions?

If you have questions about the Equifax data breach, protecting your credit, and steps to take (if we haven’t covered them herein), please reach out to Matthew Kircher at matt@fairpointwm.com or 216.272.0514

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