Equifax Breach – Steps You Should Take

As you may have seen on the news over the last 24 hours, Equifax – one of the three major credit reporting agencies – had a significant data breach at the beginning of this summer.  If you’ve ever run a credit report in the past, it’s likely your personal information was exposed.  Per reports, the hackers had access to names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, and driver’s license numbers.

The United State Federal Trade Commission (FTC) outlined the steps you should take to protect your information from being misused.  Here is a summary of the steps:

  • Visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.com to find out if your information was exposed.  Click on the “Potential Impact” tab and follow the directions to find out if you’ve been impacted by the breach.
  • Regardless of whether you have been impacted or not, Equifax is offering a year of free credit monitoring and other services.  The website above will give you the date of when you’re able to enroll.  Set a reminder to do so.

Per the Washington Post, there is language in the agreement barring those who enroll in the Equifax program from participating in any class-action lawsuits that may arise from the incident.  To exclude yourself from this provision, you can notify Equifax in writing within 30 days of signing up for the service to opt-out of the arbitration provision.

As we’ve written in the past, there are certain steps you should take when you’re a victim of identity theft. Per the FTC, here are some action steps to consider:

  • Checking your credit reports.  You are eligible for 3 free credit reports per year.  Visit www.annualcreditreport.com to view the reports.  Accounts or activity that you don’t recognize could be an indication of identity theft.  If you think you’re a victim, visit www.identitytheft.gov to find out what steps to take.
  • Consider placing a credit freeze on your files. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name, but won’t prevent a thief from impacting an existing account.
  • Monitor existing credit card and bank accounts closely.
  • Consider placing a fraud alert on your files. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim, and requires them to verify that anyone seeking credit in your name is actually YOU!
  • Hire a credit monitoring service. LifeLock or American Express’s Credit Secure service are worth considering.

Please feel free to reach out if we can be of assistance.

About Patrick Runyen

As a Wealth Manager at Independence Advisors, Patrick Runyen, CPA/PFS, CFP® works closely with clients to implement wealth management solutions. He leverages his technical financial planning and consulting experience to assist clients with investment counseling, retirement planning, estate planning, wealth enhancement, asset protection, tax planning, and other personally significant financial decisions. CLICK HERE TO ASK PAT.

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