By now you have probably heard that Equifax, one of the three national credit reporting agencies, was hacked and the personal information for 143 million individuals was compromised. Please be assured the Equifax breach is in no way associated with your Greenleaf Trust accounts. The Equifax breach exposed information including names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and in some cases, driver’s license and credit card numbers. In other words, everything a crook needs to fraudulently take out credit or a loan in someone else’s name. So what should you do now? The following identifies ways in which you can protect yourself following the information breach at Equifax.
Enroll For A Free Year of Credit Monitoring
For those potentially impacted, Equifax is offering a free year of credit monitoring and identity theft insurance via its TrustedID Premier service (normally $27.99 per month). The enrollment process can be complicated, so please feel free to contact any member of your Greenleaf Trust Client Centric Team for assistance with the enrollment process. TrustedID Premier service provides:
- A copy of your Equifax credit report
- Credit file monitoring at the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) and alerts to changes in that data
- The ability for you to “lock” and “unlock” your file with Equifax, so that Equifax will not provide it to any creditor or other company without your permission
- Identity theft insurance of $1 million
- Internet monitoring of sites where your social security number appears (such as “dark web” sites where stolen personal information is sold)
Protect Yourself After Your Free Coverage Expires
If your information was compromised in the breach, you might also want to consider paying for additional years of credit monitoring after Equifax’s free year expires. Attackers may have better luck abusing the leaked data in earnest after that first year is over and many potential victims lose free monitoring. Greenleaf Trust’s Information Technology team recommends top rated credit monitoring firms including Identity Guard; Lifelock; or Identify Force.
Keep A Close Eye On Your Finances
Monitoring your credit card and bank account statements each month can help you identify fraudulent transactions. If you see something that you did not authorize, report it immediately to your credit card company and/or bank.
Regularly Review Your Credit Report
If your details are circulated on the black market, the big risks are fraudulent credit applications on your behalf and criminals trying to find ways to take advantage of your personal data. Therefore, you should keep a close eye on your personal credit report and activity. To order your free annual report from one or all of the national consumer reporting companies, click here.
Consider A Fraud Alert on Your Credit Report
With a Fraud Alert in place, creditors receiving a credit report will be required to verify the identity of the applicant. This can be a deterrent for fraudulent activity as it precludes instant credit acceptance. Most fraud alerts only last for 90 days, so they may need to be renewed periodically to stay in force. The good news is that consumer credit reporting agencies are required to share alerts, so you only have to contact one of the three – Equifax; Experian; or TransUnion.
Consider A Security Freeze on Your Credit Report
When a Security Freeze is in place, credit reporting agencies cannot provide access to your credit report without permission from you. While this may be the best way to protect yourself from someone fraudulently obtaining credit in your name, before placing a freeze, consider the fact that they can be quite a hassle if you are actually applying for credit. Additionally, a freeze must be placed with each agency. Equifax is offering a security freeze for free as part of its TrustedID Premier service, but to place a full freeze, you will need to also work with the other two consumer reporting agencies – Experian and TransUnion.
Please do not hesitate to contact any member of your Client Centric Team with questions as we stand ready to assist you in reviewing your options.
As always, thank you for the opportunity to serve on your behalf.