In The News
Equifax Breach

We feel it is important to let you know  about potential steps you can take to protect yourself from the recently disclosed data breach at Equifax one of the big three credit reporting agencies. As we are sure you have heard, criminal elements had access to Equifax’s database from mid-May until the end of July when the breach was discovered. It is still unclear how much data was stolen versus just accessed but the number of individuals affected could be as high as 143 million people.

Now the question is what should each of us do to protect our identity and credit. That is an individual decision that will depend upon your facts and circumstances. You can do nothing; which is not what we recommend, all the way to a full credit freeze at all three credit agencies. Freezing your credit is the most secure way but does take time and will require on-going work. We say on-going work because every time you open any financial account (i.e. bank account, credit card, brokerage account, mortgage loan, even utility accounts, etc.) you will need to temporarily unfreeze your credit.

Equifax is providing free of charge a one-year credit monitoring and identity theft protection service. We would recommend you enroll in this service at a minimum. It will alert you if anyone applies for credit in your name. It will also help pay to fix things if your identity is stolen.

We have listed below some of the steps you can take and the way to accomplish them. We said before that you may want to do all of these steps or just some of them. That is a personal decision that can be different for each person.
 
1.      Find out if you're at risk.
Equifax has set up a quick and easy way to find out if you are one of the estimated 143 million consumers whose personal information is vulnerable to the breach.   Go to www.equifaxsecurity2017.comand follow the simple instructions to look up your record

 
2.       Get a credit report.
The odds are slim that there will be any malicious activity related to the recent Equifax breach, but it still makes sense to start by pulling a credit report from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. They each offer one free credit report per person, per year.

 
3.      Accept Equifax offer to monitor credit or subscribe to another credit monitoring service.
To help cushion the blow of the massive security breach, Equifax is offering consumers a year of free credit monitoring through its TrustedID service.   Signing up for TrustedID does not limit your litigation options related to the breach.

 
4.      Request fraud alerts.
Requesting fraud alerts from all three credit-reporting agencies will make it more difficult for anyone to create credit under your name with stolen information.

 
5.      Install a security freeze on your credit.
Security freezes should be installed at all three agencies and could include an initial fee of up to $10.  When you open new credit accounts you may have an extra hoop to jump through, but so will the bad guys if they try to open an account in your name.

 
6.      Change your passwords.
Skip using "123456" or "qwerty" or "111111" or any of the other most common passwords in the world. It is safe to assume a lot of people are ignoring this most basic protection. In addition to changing passwords often, experts advise making them as complex as possible, as long as possible and including double authentication whenever possible.  

 
7.      Monitor all financial statements.
It is always a good practice to closely check all financial, credit card and banking statements for any unusual activity. Hackers will sometimes make a small transaction on a hacked account just to see if it is active before committing more extensive fraud.






Detailed instructions: How to freeze and thaw your credit with each agency
 
EQUIFAX CREDIT FREEZE
 
Credit freezes may be done online or by certified mail – return receipt requested.
Check your state’s listing for the exact cost of your credit freeze and to see if there is a reduction in cost if you are a senior citizen.
If your PIN is late arriving, call 1-888-298-0045. They will ask you for some ID and arrange for your PIN to be sent to you in 4-7 days.
Unfreeze: Do a temporary thaw of your Equifax credit freeze by snail mail, online or by calling 1-800-685-1111 (N.Y. residents dial 1-800-349-9960).
If requesting a freeze by mail, use the following address:
Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA. 30348
 
EXPERIAN CREDIT FREEZE
 
Credit freezes may be done online; by certified mail – return receipt requested; or by calling 1-888-EXPERIAN (1-888-397-3742). When calling, press 2 then follow prompts for security freeze.
Check your state’s listing for the exact cost of your credit freeze and to see if there is a reduction in cost if you are a senior citizen.
You can also freeze a child’s credit report. The information contained at this link is applicable for all three credit bureaus. You must first write a letter to each bureau to learn if your minor child has a credit report and if so, then you can proceed to freeze it.
Unfreeze: Do a temporary thaw of your Experian credit freeze online or by calling 1-888-397-3742.
If requesting a freeze by mail, use the following address:
Experian
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX. 75013
 
TRANSUNION CREDIT FREEZE
 
Credit freezes may be done online, by phone (1-888-909-8872) or by certified mail – return receipt requested.
Check your state’s listing for the exact cost of your credit freeze and to see if there is a reduction in cost if you are a senior citizen.
Unfreeze: Do a temporary thaw of your TransUnion credit freeze online or by calling 1-888-909-8872.
If requesting a freeze by mail, use the following address:
TransUnion LLC
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
 

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