Huge Equifax® Data Breach Announced –
Steps you can take to help protect your identity and your credit.
On September 7, Equifax® announced it had a cyber-security attack that resulted in a huge data breach exposing an estimated 143 million consumers’ credit profiles and private information, in the US alone (The United Kingdom and Canada were also affected).
This breach contrasts from other breaches in the information that was stolen. Many noteworthy data breaches in the past have been focused on retailer/merchant breaches where the debit and card information was compromised. The compromised data here includes consumers’ names, SSNs, birth dates, addresses and driver’s license numbers, as well as 209,000 stolen card numbers and private data from 182,000 stolen dispute documents. You can go to the Equifax page here to find out whether your information may be affected: https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/potential-impact . and learn more about available options.
With this information fraudsters and criminals may try any number of different tactics. They could attempt to apply for new credit under your identity, gain access to existing bank accounts or credit accounts in attempts to withdraw money, or even create false identities using your information for either financial or criminal gain.
It is important to act now to help protect your identity, your bank accounts, and your credit standing.
Here are some steps to take to help mitigate risk and any potential effects on yourself:
1. Closely monitor all bank and credit accounts for any unusual activity and report anything suspicious to your credit union/bank or card issuer immediately.
If possible, place an additional password for in-person or over-the-phone transactions and inquiries.
Where available sign up for email and text alerts through your financial institution or card issuer’s website.
2. Utilize credit monitoring options: You can place fraud alerts on your credit bureau profiles requiring you to be contacted directly anytime new credit is applied for. You can follow these steps to set up fraud alerts for free directly through each of the 3 credit bureaus below. You are also entitled to one free copy of your credit report annually from each of the 3 credit bureaus which can be done from a centralized site at www.annualcreditreport.com . . We recommend doing this each year. In response to the data breach Equifax® is currently offering an additional free copy of your credit report as well as one year of complimentary credit monitoring through TrustedID: https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/enroll. You can choose to monitor yourself by placing fraud alerts on your credit bureaus and/or you can utilize a third party monitoring service to manage it for you. There are many companies out there to choose from and Rockford Bell Credit Union does not currently partner with, endorse, or dissuade use of any particular company.
3. Be wary of calls or emails claiming to be from your financial institution, credit card company or government agency asking for financial or personal information. If you think the call may be legitimate ask for an extension, hang-up, and call a known number of that financial institution. Criminals or iIdentity thieves may be looking to obtain additional information about you or your accounts.
4. File your income taxes early. With the type of information that was compromised there is the potential for an increase in false income tax returns in early 2018. Getting yours completed early will help limit the time in which any fraudulent return could be submitted.
Here are some additional links for information on the data breach and identity theft:
Equifax Consumer Notice page: https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.
Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Information Page: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft.
FTC – Palcing extended fraud alerts and credit freezes: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0279-extended-fraud-alerts-and-credit-freezes.