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EQUIFAX DATA BREACH! ARE YOU SAFE?

Admin Manager - Friday, September 15, 2017

On September 7, 2017 Equifax – one of the three national credit reporting agencies – announced that they had experienced a data breach on July 29, 2017.

First – let’s call it what it is…THEY WERE HACKED!

Second – let’s be real about the impact…YOUR PERSONAL IDENTIFICATION INFORMATION WAS STOLEN!

Third – let’s be honest about what you can do now…BECAUSE YOU CAN DO SOMETHING TO PROTECT YOURSELF!

It is estimated … ESTIMATED … that 143 million people had records stolen. There are 189 million adults in the United States. I would say your identification information has been stolen. 

What do I mean by Identification Information? What’s been stolen? What was in those records?

1. Your Social Security Number – yes, that important number that is a part of every single financial and credit account you have. The important number that is associated with all of your medical records. That important number that is associated with your government retirement account, your investment accounts, your bank accounts, your loans, your business. 

2. Your address – yes, where you live. You thought privacy was an issue? You thought right. Remember when you applied for that car loan? You had to provide your Name, your address, your social security number. And you got the loan. You received credit. That’s all you needed. That’s all a thief needs to apply for credit in your name.

3. Your birth date – yes, the additional piece of information that ensures the lender and creditor that you are … who you say you are.

4. Credit Card Accounts – yes, remember Equifax is a credit reporting agency, therefore they have record of every single credit card you own. Every one of them. Look in your wallet – how many do you have now that you can use? That is what the thieves have in their hands right now.

5. Driver’s License Numbers – yes, that piece of identification you use to gain entry into adult night clubs, purchase liquor and tobacco items, get a license plate for your vehicle, and more. Now, I’m not saying your driver’s license number was stolen for sure because current information in the news says only about 209,000 people would be affected by this. But, honestly, I think it’s good to be cautious and assume that yours was one of those taken.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Now that you know your identity is at risk, you can do a few things to protect yourself:

1. Freeze Your Credit – (from Krebs on Security)

A credit/security freeze essentially blocks any potential creditors from being able to view or “pull” your credit file, unless you affirmatively unfreeze or thaw your file beforehand. With a freeze in place on your credit file, ID thieves can apply for credit in your name all they want, but they will not succeed in getting new lines of credit in your name because few if any creditors will extend that credit without first being able to gauge how risky it is to loan to you (i.e., view your credit file).

Notify each of the major credit bureaus that you wish to place a freeze on your credit file. This can usually be done online, but in a few cases you may need to contact one or more credit bureaus by phone or in writing. Once you complete the application process, each bureau will provide a unique personal identification number (PIN) that you can use to unfreeze or “thaw” your credit file in the event that you need to apply for new lines of credit sometime in the future. Depending on your state of residence and your circumstances, you may also have to pay a small fee to place a freeze at each bureau. There are four consumer credit bureaus, including Equifax, Experian, Innovis and Trans Union.  It’s a good idea to keep your unfreeze PIN(s) in a folder in a safe place (perhaps along with your latest credit report), so that when and if you need to undo the freeze, the process is simple.

2. Pull Your Credit Report Now – (ProCredit)

You can pull your credit reports from all 3 of the credit reporting agencies and check for anything that is out of order. Or, of course, you can call us and we can do it for you.

3. Put a Fraud Alert on your Credit Records – (Simple Dollar)

You can do that at any of these websites:

Experian Fraud Alert

TransUnion Fraud Alert

Equifax Fraud Alert

The good news is that you only need to do this with one of the credit bureaus. They are obligated under Federal law to notify the other two. The fraud alert will ensure that ANY lender that pulls your credit reports will call you and verify verbally that you actually submitted an application for credit. For most of us – this will be good enough.

4. Call Us – 502-689-1001

If you have found anything on your report that is suspicious.

If you already have a bad credit rating and want to improve it.

If you want to apply for credit now and want to be sure you will be approved.

Information provided here is available on Federal websites and trusted security sites:

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0275-place-fraud-alert

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs#what

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0279-extended-fraud-alerts-and-credit-freezes

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/money-credit

https://krebsonsecurity.com/

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