|INFO SECURITY ALERT: Equifax Breach Affects 143 Million Consumers
By Matthew Lang, Lang Investment Services. Monument, CO 719-481-0887
Last week, news broke that Equifax, one of the three major credit bureaus, suffered a massive database breach. It’s estimated that the information of 143 million consumers was compromised, including:
The good news is that many Equifax executives sold their stock shares after they knew what happened, but before the public knew…..whew….now we can all rest easy knowing they won’t miss the loan payments on their yachts. However, for the rest of us who may be negatively affected by having some of our most valuable information exposed, here are some steps to take to protect your personal info.
Due to the high potential impact of this breach, I recommend taking the following steps:
1) Determine whether you may have been affected. Through the Equifax self-service portal, you can quickly determine whether your information may have been compromised. Enter your last name and the last six digits of your social security number, and you’ll find out whether Equifax believes you’ve been affected. This process takes only a couple of minutes.
2) Enroll in Equifax’s credit monitoring and identity theft protection. Equifax is now offering one free year of TrustedID Premier, its credit monitoring and identity theft protection product, to all U.S. consumers, even if you aren’t a victim.
Once you enter your information in Equifax’s self-service portal, you’ll be given the option to enroll in TrustedID Premier. Click Enroll, and you’ll be provided with an enrollment date. Be sure to write down this date and return to the site on or after that date.
For more information, visit the Equifax FAQs page regarding the incident.
3) Be wary of e-mails that come from Equifax. Because of the high number of victims, Equifax is notifying only the 209,000 consumers whose credit card information may have been affected via postal mail. Do not trust e-mails that appear to come from Equifax regarding the breach. Attackers are likely to take advantage of the situation and craft sophisticated phishing e-mails.
4) Monitor your accounts for suspicious activity. Equifax’s free TrustedID Premier service can help you monitor your credit—but be sure to monitor your other important accounts for any suspicious activity.
5) Go to the other credit companies, Transunion and Experian, and initiate a credit freeze. You will need to unfreeze your credit when you apply for loans, but as long as you keep track of the PIN it is easy to unfreeze and refreeze your credit when needed.
6) Get a copy of your credit report. Most states require the credit agencies to offer a free copy of your credit report at least once a year. I would suggest getting a copy of and checking for accounts you don’t recognize.
We all know that hackers are always working the online world trying to steal your data. Identify theft is rampant all over the world. No matter what we do, most of us will at some time be exposed to a data breach, but all we can do is try to protect ourselves. Equifax is not the first or the last company which will be hacked, heck, even the IRS was compromised a couple years ago. I hope no one has negative repercussions from this event, but if any of us do, then we can just take it one step at a time.
Matthew Lang is a financial advisor located at 236 N Washington St, Monument, CO 80132. He offers securities and advisory services as an Investment Adviser Representative of Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. He can be reached at 719-481-0887 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.