Your credit score affects your ability to get a credit card and credit, the interest rates you are charged or credit cards , home loans and cars, the ability to rent a car, get a plane ticket, the price you pay for insurance and more.As a former loan officer, Realtor I am a person extremely concerned about my credit and the credit of others. And I too am part of the breach.
The recent breach at Equifax is said to affect 134 million people. Equifax identified the breach on July 29, 2017 but didn’t let the public know until more than 30 days later, causing even more concern. Hackers accessed social security, numbers, addresses, driver license numbers and more. The personal information of half of the country is in the hands of criminals.
Before you do any thing or sign up for monitoring here are some facts to consider and some definite to dos.
Equifax is offering Everyone year free credit monitoring. At time of this post, the offer is for everyone whether breached or not. If you want to see if you were included in the breach, you can go to www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.
But stop before signing up for the free monitoring, note that some sources are saying that Equifax’s agreement that you sign to get the free monitoring could void your rights to sue via class action if there is a problem. Tonight, after many experts expressed concern about credit users who accepting free monitoring can be losing legal rights Equifax now says on their front page that they won’t lose those writes.
But here is another caution, the free monitoring is only for one year. The huge problem with this is that often your information may not be used for some years and the impact of the breach can be felt for many, many years. Is it enough protection? And is Experian going to use it to sell you future monitoring? Here are a couple more links that include expert opinions.
LA Times Article: http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-equifax-breach-20170908-story.html
You need to make your own decision but here are a few suggestions.
- Consider a credit freezes at all 3 bureaus at: www,transunion.com www.equifax.com and www,experian.com When you get a credit freeze no one can open any credit unless the freeze is lifted. That takes contacting the credit bureau with special information that is set up when you put the freeze on the account. More information about credit freezes at the Arizona Attorney Generals website. https://www.azag.gov/identity-theft/security-freeze#HowRequest
- Be EXTRA careful about clicking on links and attachments. Scammers will try to use this and send out email and links pretending to help with links to scam you. When in doubt, call or email the company that appears to be sending the message separately, don’t go through the email you have been sent.
- CHANGE passwords. ESPECIALLY if you used passwords with Equifax that are similar to ones used at other websites. One hackers find a password that you use on one site they will automatically try it on many sites.
- Get 2 Factor Authentication for as many of your accounts AS possible. Hackers will go in and try to change your passwords. 2 factor authentication sends the password request to your email so that it can’t be changed without going through your email.
- Check and watch ALL your accounts regularly. This includes credit, banks, social security accounts, medical accounts and any thing else where you use your person information. The breach includes social security number, passwords, addresses, drivers licenses and more.
- Get free credit monitoring such Credit Karma or Credit Sesame or from your credit card company that lets you know of new inquires or new accounts created. Make sure that there has been no activity so far.
- Watch your medical accounts. Marie, my friend got a call from her doctor saying she had too many prescriptions for pain pills. It turns out that someone had used her name, birthday and social security to get prescription drugs. Now she is dealing with Medicare, Social Security to get her medical identity back. She is trying to be sure that all of her medical records are changed back to her information, including blood type and history.
Monitor your credit careful. It is soooo important. The U.S. Government requires that each of the 3 bureaus provide you with a free credit report each year. Go to wwww.annualcreditreport.com You can get all 3 at once or one at a time.
Personally, I am going to freeze my credit with all 3 bureaus. I do not need any new credit at this time. When I am ready to get new credit I will just unfreeze in before doing so. Maybe I can use my credit freeze as an excuse to send that pesky salesman away.
Posted on September 9, 2017 at 1:12 am by Pat Ford