Community

    Four Things You Can Do Right Now If You're Worried About the Equifax Breach

     For more information, please call us at 753-1521.

    There’s a reasonable chance your personal information was exposed during the recent Equifax data breach.  Equifax is one of three major credit reporting agencies and handles the data of 820 million consumers and more than 91 million businesses worldwide.  Equifax is not a bank.

    The names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver’s license numbers for 143 million people may have been accessed.  That kind of information could be used by someone else to open bank accounts, credit cards and loans in your name.  Equifax has indicated that debit cards were not exposed – therefore criminals are unlikely to have the ability to withdraw funds from a checking account.  The biggest risk posed by this breach is the threat of identity theft.  We hope this information will help you respond to this situation appropriately.

    If you’re concerned about whether your information was breached, here are four things you can do.

    1. Check your free credit report and the Equifax website

    Under federal law you are allowed to request a free copy of your credit report once a year. You can request a copy of your credit report online at www.annualcreditreport.com.  Also, check the Equifax website.  Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on “Potential Impact,” enter some personal information and the site will tell you if you’ve been affected.  Be sure you’re on a secure network (not public wi-fi) when you submit sensitive data over the internet.

    2. Keep an eye on bank accounts and credit card statements

    Go through all your bank, retirement, and brokerage accounts, as well as your credit card statements to look for any suspicious activity.  This is simply always a good idea to do each and every month. Get in the habit of carefully checking your statements on a regular basis.  When the bank and customer work together, we can better prevent fraud.  Banks use a combination of safeguards to protect your information, such as employee training, strict privacy policies, rigorous security standards and encryption systems.  

    3. Sign up for a credit monitoring or identity theft protection service

    Monitoring services usually alert you when a company checks on your credit history, a new loan or credit card is opened in your name, a creditor says a payment is late, etc.  But keep in mind, most credit monitoring services only track your credit reports.  They still won’t alert you to suspicious activity on your credit card or in your actual bank accounts.  Equifax is offering free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection to all U.S. consumers for one year following the breach.  You do not need to provide credit card information to enroll.  Consumers who sign up for the program will not be automatically enrolled or charged at the end of the year.  Go to the Equifax website for information.

    These services won’t prevent fraud from happening.  The government offers a free resource for recovering from identity theft at identityTheft.gov.

    While there is usually a cost involved with a credit monitoring service or identity theft protection, Equifax is offering a free first year of credit monitoring through its TrustedID Premier business, regardless of whether you’ve been affected by the hack.

    4. If you’re really worried, put a freeze on your credit

    This is an extreme step and is likely not necessary, especially if you don’t know for sure that your information was compromised, or what personal information was stolen. A freeze blocks anyone from accessing your credit reports without your permission.  But it can be an inconvenience for you, too.  Hopefully this last resort will not be necessary if you do the other steps above.