Equifax recently announced that between mid-May and July 2017, over 143 million American consumers’ sensitive financial information was exposed. Since Equifax tracks the financial data for so many Americans, there is a high likelihood that your personal information has been exposed. Here are 10 steps to take today to protect yourself.
1. Specifically, for this breach:
a. Visit Equifax’s website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, and find out if you were exposed by clicking on the “Potential Impact” tab and entering your last name and last 6 digits of your social security number.
b. If you find out your information was exposed, follow the on-screen steps to enroll in their free monitoring.
c. There is a class action suit that’s been filed, so look for more information about that.
d. Even if you’re informed that your information was not exposed, the database may not be 100% accurate so anyone, exposed or not, can sign up for the monitoring.
2. Watch for signs of identity theft. This breach was months ago, so changes may already have been made to your accounts. Some of the major signs of identity theft include:
a. You notice unexplained withdrawals or activity from your bank and credit card accounts
b. You stop getting mail or bills (implying your address has been changed)
c. Debt collectors start calling about debts you don’t recognize
d. Your medical records don’t match your medical history
3. Think about setting a credit freeze. This can be done by contacting each credit bureau and placing a freeze on all credit. Note that this also prevents you from acquiring new credit, even when you initiate the request. This service typically costs $5-$10 each to both put it on and take it off.
a. Equifax: 1-800-349-9960
b. Experian: 1 888 397 3742
c. TransUnion: 1-888-909-8872
4. Put a fraud alert on your file with one of the credit agencies. Typically, these fraud alerts expire after 90 days. However, after it expires the alert will force the credit agencies to contact you for any new credit requests. Placing the fraud alert on one credit agency will place it on all three as they are required by the government.
5. Check your credit report now and review it closely for accuracy. You can receive a free report from each of the three bureaus every 12 months at: www.annualcreditreport.com.
6. Consider expiring or asking all your current credit cards for new cards with new numbers. This occurs naturally if you lose your card and you call to let your credit card company know. Equifax plans to notify people whose credit card information was exposed. If you receive a notice this is a mandatory step, but also can be done as a precaution.
7. Consider adding third-party identity theft solutions. Equifax’ solution to this breach is complimentary enrollment in TrustedID Premier, but you might want to consider adding a secondary identify theft solution for added protection for any adults in your household. IdentityGuard is a good place to begin.
8. It’s a good time to change all your banking passwords. It is never convenient, but now is a great time to do it.
9. Watch out for FAKE Equifax emails, phone calls, or other communications related to the breach. These fake communications may contain malware or may be phishing campaigns to gain more personal info or scam the user out of money. These malware and phishing attacks are now reaching the market, and you don’t want the problem to get worse for you.
10. BONUS STEP: Repeat Steps 1 through 9 for your spouse or other loved ones. Take the same precautions to protect your loved ones from exposure.
Take time to do the things on this list and make sure you share it with others in your company and at home. You may not be able to control all the exposure, but the items above can help protect you from this breach. Make this a priority today!
Disclaimers: This is not an offer to buy or sell securities. No investment process is free of risk and there is no guarantee that the investment process described herein will be profitable. Past performance is not indicative of current or future performance and is not a guarantee. In preparing these materials, we have relied upon and assumed without independent verification, the accuracy and completeness of all information available from public and internal sources. Gryphon Financial Partners shall not in any way be liable for claims and make no expressed or implied representations or warranties as to their accuracy or completeness or for statements or errors contained in or omissions from them. This was created for informational purposes only. Gryphon Financial Partners, LLC is a Registered Investment Adviser.