As our clients, we want to be sure you are aware of important financial events that could affect you, even if those events do not directly affect the investments that we manage for you.
Last week it was announced that as many as 143 million Americans had sensitive personal data exposed through a data breach at Equifax between May and July. Equifax is one of the nation’s three major credit reporting agencies. The hackers were able to retrieve names, social security numbers, birth dates, credit card numbers and in some rare cases even driver’s license numbers.[i] This security breach was through Equifax and not through Shore Wealth Management or Cetera.
How can you find out if you were affected?
Equifax has established a website that will allow individuals to look up their information and see if they are among those affected. We recommend, as does the FTC, that you visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. You will be asked to enter your last name and the last six digits of your social security number. Regardless of whether or not your information is compromised, Equifax is offering one full year’s credit monitoring and identity theft protection through TrustedID Premier free of charge. There is no credit card information taken and if you choose to enroll you will not be automatically renewed for another year.
What else can you do?
Place a credit freeze or fraud alert on your credit report. You can set a credit freeze directly at each reporting agency’s website here: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion or you can also call Equifax (1-800-349-9960), Experian (1-888-397-3742) or TransUnion (1-888-909-8872). There will be a $5-10 fee associated with freezing or thawing of credit.
Consider changing the password for your main email account as well as bank, investment and credit card accounts. Too many people use simple passwords based on their pet’s name, their last name and year of birth, the high school they attended, their house number or something equally easy for a thief to figure out. Create passwords that are long and random, to make it harder for a would-be thief to guess.
If someone calls you out of the blue claiming to be from Equifax or the Social Security office do not cooperate with them. Unless either of these agencies are returning your call, they will not contact you by phone. The same applies if you get a random, unsolicited email or texts. Do not comply, or you may inadvertently hand over personal information to a fraudster. Stay vigilant, today and in the future.
As always, we are here to answer any questions you have with this issue or any other financial concern. Please do not hesitate to call our office at 217-709-0001.