Equifax Data Breach: What you should do?Submitted by Castlebar Asset Management on September 11th, 2017
The news that Equifax experienced a hack has been in the news for several days. The company said that 143 million Americans data was breached. Hackers accessed names, social security numbers, birth dates and other information.
What does this mean for you?
There is almost a 50/50 chance your information was accessed. Equifax has set up a website to check if you are impacted. I found out that my information was accessed. I also tried a few made up names and social security numbers and it said theirs was as well. Equifax may be trying to cover their bases and offering their free credit monitoring to everyone.
Here are recommended steps from the Federal Trade Commission:
Check your credit reports: You can receive a free credit report from Credit Karma or annualcreditreport.com. Accounts or activity that you don’t recognize could indicate identity theft. Visit IdentityTheft.gov to find out what to do. We prefer our clients use Credit Karma because it will monitor your credit on an ongoing basis and alert you if anyone applies for a new loan or credit card.
Monitor your existing accounts: Keep a close eye on your existing credit card and bank accounts for charges you don’t recognize. If you don’t regularly check your statements please review them monthly (or more frequently) over the next few months. After reviewing your accounts, if you find there is suspicious activity please call your bank or credit card company quickly to let them know.
File your taxes early: Once you have your tax information you should file your returns. Don’t procrastinate, as soon as you have the tax information you need file, before a scammer can. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. Respond right away to letters from the IRS.
Consider placing a credit freeze on your files. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. Keep in mind that a credit freeze won’t prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts. This is one of the last actions you would want to take.
Help out your family: Repeat these steps for your family and loved ones.
I am cautious about the free service that Equifax is offering to monitor your credit. There has been a lukewarm response from some users and a lot of misinformation on the internet. The steps we are recommending are the actions I went through personally with the exception of a credit freeze.
If you have any questions please feel free to reach out.
Andrew Comstock, CFA
Please contact me at 913-660-0708 or by email to discuss your financial planning and investment management needs. You can sign up for our monthly newsletter here. Follow me on Twitter @CastlebarAM.
Disclaimer: The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results.