There have been a growing number of concerns regarding the Equifax data breach and how it affects our clients. Here is some information that we thought you might find useful and some steps that you may take to limit the impact to you and your family.
Equifax recently announced the identification of a cybersecurity incident potentially impacting two thirds of the adult American population. The information hackers accessed primarily included names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. In some rare instances credit card numbers and dispute documents with personal identifying information were breached as well. The issue has been contained and Equifax has engaged an independent cybersecurity firm to conduct an assessment and provide recommendations to help prevent this type of incident in the future.
This is one of the most consequential data breaches in history, considering that most Americans have credit histories on file with Equifax and the other two credit reporting agencies, Experian and Transunion. Unfortunately, it is highly likely your personal information has already been hacked at some point or another, whether or not you were aware of the data breach or not. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center’s (ITRC) “ITRC Data Breach Report,” more than 29 million records have been exposed in 858 publicized breaches across sectors including financial, government, health care and education. Cyber-crime is a reality we all face in this new digital world. However, proactively taking steps to protect your information can go a long way toward ensuring your online safety.
Keep in mind that when someone borrows money with your credit, you are not legally responsible for that debt. However, when unauthorized transactions occur, it is usually very inconvenient and can become quite a lengthy process to get everything resolved.
Here at CGC Financial Services the security of your personal information is taken very seriously. We have robust, federally compliant programs that protect client accounts and information including computer safeguards and secured files and buildings. In addition, each employee of our firm completes regular training requirements in the proper handling of clients’ personal information and security. As you may have experienced when requesting one-time withdrawals we require verbal approval with security verification before executing such transactions.
We offer the following suggestions and encourage you to take action to protect your personal information:
- Check to see if your information has been exposed at equifaxsecurity2017.com.
- Enroll for Equifax’s credit monitoring service made available at no cost.
- Remain vigilant checking your financial statements and accounts for unexpected activity and changes to addresses, beneficiaries or anything you don’t recognize.
- Check your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion for free by visiting annualcreditreport.com. Report any accounts or activity that you don’t recognize to the specific credit reporting agency.
- Consider requesting a credit freeze to prevent potentially fraudulent accounts from being opened in your name.
- A fee may apply for this service and it will limit your ability to get instant credit in situations like instant store credit or while purchasing a vehicle.
- You can freeze your credit by using the following phone numbers and links:
- If you decide against a credit freeze, consider placing a fraud alert on your files. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and that they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name really is you. You can do this at each of the credit reporting agencies as well.
- Consider changing your passwords to your online accounts
- Stay wary of email announcements which may be phishing attempts – some may even appear to be from Equifax concerning the breach. Go directly to the websites rather than clicking links provided in emails.
- Warn friends and family members who may be more vulnerable to scams.
(Please keep in mind that the credit reporting agencies are experiencing a large influx of visitors to their sites and call centers. It may take more than one attempt to actually get a freeze or fraud alerts added to your account)
For additional information, visit https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2017/09/equifax-data-breach-what-do.
Should you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.