How will the EquiFax breach affect you?
HOW WILL A CREDIT BREACH AFFECT YOU?
Like throwing a stone into a pond, the Equifax data breach has long-lasting repercussions. Already, because of what’s being considered one of the largest data breaches in recent history, 143 million consumers may be affected. Data compromised in the breach has the potential to impact any form of credit taken out in the U.S. — including mortgages, credit cards, and car loans.
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE EQUIFAX DATA BREACH?
The credit-reporting agency, Equifax, recently revealed that a data breach lasting from mid-May through July 2017 gave hackers access to their consumers’ names, Social Security numbers, addresses, birth dates, and, for some, driver’s license numbers. The Federal Trade Commission confirms that credit card numbers were stolen from an estimated 209,000 people and documents with personally identifying information for roughly 182,000 others. Hackers also accessed personal data for customers in the UK and Canada. Equifax says their agency didn’t discover the breach until July 29, 2017, after most of the damage was done.
Anyone who may be affected by the breach is encouraged to act fast. Lisa Lindsay, executive director of the collaborative group Private Risk Management Association (PRMA), says “Consumers will need to evaluate what they want to do next with regards to protection and what risk management options they want to take such as purchasing cyber and fraud insurance. Those impacted by the breach could be at risk for additional attacks.”
Equifax’s website has a section where you can determine if you were one of the people whose data was compromised. Go to: https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/am-i-impacted/. We encourage you to check and whether you are, or aren’t, some action steps follow.
WE ENCOURAGE ALL BORROWERS AND FUTURE BORROWERS TO ACT:
- Protect yourself against potential identity theft by visiting www.AnnualCreditReport.com to review your credit report for fraudulent activity. At this site, you can get a free report from each of the three credit repositories (bureaus) once a year. If you stagger them out, you can effectively monitor your credit for free annually.
- Place a fraud alert or credit freeze to make it more difficult for anyone to open unauthorized accounts in your name. If you elect to do a credit freeze, you need to contact each bureau individually and process that freeze with them. There is a small fee in Texas to do this, it was about $10 for each. Keep in mind, if you freeze your credit, you will need to unfreeze any time you apply for credit of any kind. During the time when you are applying for credit and the freeze is lifted, you can place a 90-day fraud alert on your credit. This should limit lenders from granting credit under your name without first verifying that you are the one who applied for the loan. See the bottom of this email for contact information for each bureau.
- Stay educated and get more resources from the FTC’s Privacy, Identity, and Online Security site at www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/privacy-identity-online-security.
WE ARE URGING BORROWERS TO STAY COMMITTED TO MONITORING THEIR CREDIT FOR THE FUTURE. Some tips:
- Activity from the Equifax breach could still show up months later.
- Even with a clean credit report, freezing your credit or setting up fraud alerts will make it harder for an identity thief to open a credit card or take out a loan in your name.
- Pay special attention around tax season in April. This is when your Social Security number is more likely to be stolen for a refund.
- You may also choose to purchase additional cyber or fraud insurance. But check with your provider first - Identity theft coverage, which may include credit monitoring, is often lumped into homeowners’ insurance policies.
Your security is a priority.
We appreciate you and want to help protect you.
Your PlanningWorks Team