Equifax, Cyber-Attacks, and Your Financial Health
Security is a hot topic around here, even when it doesn’t lead the evening news. Keeping your money and personal information safe from hackers and thieves is a duty we take very seriously, as it is a key component of your financial health. Yet here we are, in the middle of a “Safe and Secure” September, talking about a cyber-attack on one of America’s largest credit reporting agencies.
In case you haven’t heard, Equifax, a global credit services provider that gathers and maintains information on a billion consumers and companies worldwide, announced Thursday (9/7/17), that a serious data breach over the summer exposed vital information on 143 million Americans. Personal details uncovered include Social Security numbers, birth dates & addresses. Additionally, in some cases, driver’s license & credit card numbers were compromised.
However, the scope of the incident at Equifax is large and far-reaching. They have established a dedicated website detailing the incident and their response at www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. The site includes a simple “Check Potential Impact” button where you can check to see if you are among the millions affected. Equifax is offering a free year of their premium monitoring and protection package, called TrustedID Premier, to all US consumers. It includes credit monitoring at the three major credit bureaus, copies of Equifax reports, credit lock options, monitoring of your SSN on the Internet and identity theft insurance up to one million dollars. While a generous offer, some experts remain uncomfortable with Equifax at this time, so be aware that these protections are available from the other credit bureaus (Experian & TransUnion) as well as third-party providers, like Lifelock or IDShield.*
* Call Federal is not affiliated with nor endorsing these products. They are merely mentioned as a starting point for your own research.
What Should You Do
As stated above and elsewhere on this site and blog, we take data security very seriously and will be ramping up our content development in this area to give you the resources you need to inform yourself and stay vigilant against those who would steal your information and identity. For now, here are three things you should do if you believe your Social Security number has been compromised:
Check Your Credit Reports
If you haven’t done so recently, we recommend obtaining your credit files from AnnualCreditReport.com. You are entitled to receive a free copy of your credit report from Equifax, Experian and also TransUnion each year. Review your credit files for inaccurate, incomplete or unfamiliar information. If you see something on any of your files that doesn’t look right, contact the fraud department
Review Your Annual Social Security Earnings Statement
You are looking for suspicious activity, anything out of the ordinary. So double-check your personal information, earned income reported, etc. If anything seems off or incorrect, immediately contact the Social Security Administration to report these issues.
Closely Watch Your Banking Accounts (including Credit Cards)
If possible, check your accounts online daily. Make sure you recognize all the transactions listed. Don’t ignore a small transaction amount; in fact, look at these more closely. It may be a test to see how the transaction is processed and, if successful and unidentified, may lead to larger amounts being charged.
These are just a few options to help you gain peace of mind and remain vigilant as this process plays out. If you are still uncomfortable with the information presented here and would like to speak personally with one of our Certified Credit Union Financial Counselors, email us @ CCUFC@callfederal.org and we’ll be happy to assist you and walk you through the processes of securing your accounts and keeping your financial information as safe as possible. And stay tuned to this space for updates and more information on cyber-security and identity theft prevention tips.
J.T. Blau, Scott Gregory, and Thomas McDonald contributed to this article.