You may have read that hackers broke into the Equifax database and stole personal information tied to 143 million people. Ongoing updates from Equifax about this incident are available at equifaxsecurity2017.com
Baron Financial does not use Equifax for any services, but we are sharing this information for educational purposes.
Equifax is one of the three main credit reporting agencies. They collect and maintain individual credit information and sell it to lenders, creditors, and consumers in the form of a credit report.
What you should consider doing now:
- Order a Credit Report at www.annualcreditreport.com.
- Freeze Your Credit Reports (after ordering a copy). A freeze stops thieves from opening new credit cards or loans in your name, but it also prevents you from opening new accounts. So each time you apply for a credit card, mortgage or loan, you need to lift the freeze a few days beforehand. Equifax said it will waive all fees until Nov. 21 for people who want to freeze their Equifax credit files.
- Regularly Monitor Your Financial Accounts, Credit Cards and Loan Accounts for any suspicious activity
Something else to consider: Sign up by November 21 for the free Credit Monitoring offer from Equifax (equifaxsecurity2017.com). Some experts have offered differing opinions on taking advantage of this service. However, we did want to make you aware of the offer.
For reference, some ongoing considerations and actions are listed below. Additional actions, not listed below, may be needed. Feel free to contact Baron directly regarding your personal circumstance, as we may be able to provide a more specific list of actionable items.
Ordering a Credit Report:
- The purpose for ordering a credit report is to identify if your identity has possibly been stolen.
- Request a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies at www.annualcreditreport.com.
- Review the report for any information, including accounts, credit cards or loans that you do not recognize. Also, check your credit score for any unsuspecting negative changes.
- If there are accounts, credit cards, or loans that you do not recognize, contact the credit reporting agency that has the unknown account(s). Visit the U.S. Federal Trade Commission website https://www.identitytheft.gov/ to create a recovery plan.
- If fraudulent activity is discovered, you may consider placing a credit freeze and/or fraud alert on your account with all the major credit bureaus by contacting one of the credit agencies. The fraud alert will last for 90 days and can be renewed.
- If appropriate and possible, close any compromised or unauthorized accounts.
- If you suspect your Social Security number has been compromised, call the Social Security Administration’s fraud hotline at 1- 800-269-0271 from 10am to 4pm EST.
- If you’re the victim of tax fraud, visit the IRS website https://www.irs.gov/uac/taxpayer-guide-to-identity-theft.
Regularly Monitoring Your Financial Accounts, Credit Cards and Loan Accounts for any suspicious activity:
- Monitor your online statements to identify fraudulent activity in your known accounts. The previously mentioned credit report won’t tell you if there’s been money stolen from a bank account or suspicious activity on your credit card.
- If you suspect that any of your accounts have suspicious activity, contact the respective financial institution immediately.
For more information regarding personal cybersecurity, please view our webinar.
Please contact your Baron team with any questions.