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Questions After the Equifax Data Breach

Questions After the Equifax Data Breach

Consumers may be at risk for many years.

 

Provided by TechGirl Financial 

How long should you worry about identity theft in the wake of the Equifax hack?

The correct answer might turn out to be “as long as you live.” If your personal data was copied in this cybercrime, you should at least scrutinize your credit, bank, and investment account statements in the near term. You may have to keep up that vigilance for years to come.

Cybercrooks are sophisticated in their assessment of consumer habits and consumer memories. They know that eventually, many Americans will forget about the severity and depth of this crime – and that could be the right time to strike. All those stolen Social Security and credit card numbers may be exploited in the 2020s rather than today. Or, perhaps these criminals will just wait until Equifax’s offer of free credit monitoring for consumers expires.

Equifax actually had its data breached twice this year.

On September 18, Equifax said that their databases had been entered in March, nearly five months before the well-publicized, late-July violation. Its spring security effort to prevent another hack failed. Bloomberg has reported that the same hackers may be responsible for both invasions.2

Should you accept Equifax’s offer to try and protect your credit?

Many consumers have, but with reservations. Some credit monitoring is better than none, but those who signed up for Equifax’s TrustedID Premier protection agreed to some troubling fine print. By enrolling in the program, they may have waived their right to join any class action lawsuits against Equifax. Equifax claims this arbitration clause does not apply to consumers who sought protection in response to the hack, but lawyers are not so sure.1   

Should you freeze your credit?

Some analysts recommend this move. You can request all three major credit agencies (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) to do this for you. Freezing your credit accounts has no effect on your credit score. It stops a credit agency from giving your personal information to a creditor, which should lower your risk for identity theft. The only hassle here is that if you want to buy a home, rent an apartment, or get a new credit card, you will have to pay a fee to each of the three firms to unfreeze your credit.1

Three other steps may improve your level of protection.

Change your account passwords; this simple measure could really strengthen your defenses. Choose two-factor authentication when it is offered to you – this is when an account requires not just a password, but a second code necessary for access, which is sent in a text message to the accountholder’s mobile device. You can also ask for fraud alerts to be placed on your credit reports, but you must keep renewing them every 90 days.1  

What other tools can help watch over your statements?

If your bank, credit union, or credit card issuer does not offer identity theft protection and credit monitoring, consider free apps such as Credit Karma, Credit Sesame, and Clarity Money. Apart from simply protecting your credit and bank accounts, programs like EverSafe, Identity Guard, and LifeLock have the capability to scan the “dark web” where personal information is sold in addition to monitoring your credit reports. (You may be able to take advantage of a free, 30-day trial.)1

When a pillar of worldwide credit reporting has its data stolen twice in five months, the trust of the public is shaken. The lesson for the consumer, as depressing as it may be, is not to be too trusting of the online avenues and vaults through which personal information passes.

TechGirl Financial    

TechGirl Financial may be reached at 800.584.3652or kim@techgirlfinancial.com.

https://techgirlfinancial.com/

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Registered Representative of and securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor. TechGirl Financial and Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., are not affiliated companies.

Citations.

1 – time.com/money/4947784/7-questions-you-must-keep-asking-about-the-equifax-hack/ [9/20/17]

2 – bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-18/equifax-is-said-to-suffer-a-hack-earlier-than-the-date-disclosed [9/18/17]

The Equifax Data Breach

The Equifax Data Breach 

Have you been affected? If so, how can you try to protect yourself?

 

Provided by Kim Gaxiola

 

On September 7, credit reporting agency Equifax dropped a consumer bombshell

It revealed that cybercriminals had gained access to the personal information of as many as 143 million Americans between May and July – about 44% of the U.S. population. The culprits were able to retrieve roughly 209,000 credit card numbers, in addition to many Social Security and driver’s license numbers.1

 

How can you find out if you were affected?

Visit equifaxsecurity2017.com, the website Equifax just created for consumers. There, you can enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number to find out. (Having to enter the last six digits of your SSN hints at how significant this breach is.)2

If you are among the consumers whose data was hacked, Equifax will ask you to return to equifaxsecurity2017.com to enroll in an identity theft protection product, TrustedID Premier. This program will provide you with free credit monitoring for a year. (The lingering question is whether your data could be used easily by criminals afterward.)1,2

 

How should you respond?

Beyond simply taking Equifax up on its offer of one year of identity theft insurance and free credit monitoring, you can take other steps.

 

Check your credit reports now.

(Unless you have already done so in the past month). You can get one free credit report per year from Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. To request yours, go to annualcreditreport.com. Scrutinize your credit card and bank account statements for unfamiliar activity, and sign up for email or text alerts offered by your bank or credit card issuer(s), so that notice of anything suspicious can quickly reach you.

 

Consider changing the password for your main email account.

A weak password on that account is a low bar for a cybercrook to hurdle – and once hurdled, that crook could potentially pose as you to change the passwords on your financial accounts.3

 

Regarding bank, investment, and credit card account passwords, avoid the obvious.

Too many people use simple passwords based on their pet’s name, their last name and year of birth, the high school they attended, etc. Sadly, these same simple facts are often answers to security questions for credit card and bank accounts. Ask your bank or credit card issuer if you can use additional, random words or a PIN for passwords or security question answers. That way, you can avoid logging in using data that is in the public record. You want your password to be long and random, to make it harder for a would-be thief to guess.

 

You may want to consider paying for additional identity theft protection for years to come.

This is one way to try and shield yourself from the unauthorized use of your Social Security number, driver’s license number, email accounts, and credit card numbers.

 

If someone calls you out of the blue claiming to be from Equifax, do not cooperate with them.

Unless Equifax is returning your call, they will not contact you by phone. The same applies if you get a random, unsolicited email or text from “Equifax” – do not comply, or you may inadvertently hand over personal information to a fraudster. Stay vigilant, today and in the future.

 

              

Kim Gaxiola may be reached at 800.584.3652 or kim@techgirlfinancial.com.

https://techgirlfinancial.com/

Kim Gaxiola
Registered Representative of and securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor. TechGirl Financial and Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., are not affiliated companies.
Gaxiola Financial Group | 305 Vineyard Town Center #369 | Morgan Hill, CA 95037 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.

1 – wired.com/story/how-to-protect-yourself-from-that-massive-equifax-breach/ [9/7/17]

2 – washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/09/08/after-data-breach-equifax-asks-consumers-for-social-security-numbers-to-see-if-theyve-been-affected [9/8/17]

3 – cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2017/09/devastating_data_breach_at_equ.html [9/8/17]

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Securities offered through Registered Representatives of Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisors Services through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor.

Tech Girl Financial is not affiliated with Cambridge. Check the background of this investment professional on FINRA's BrokerCheck.
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