Hearing you may have been part of a data breach is never good thing, especially when that breach happened in July to credit reporting agency giant Equifax. Add to that, they waited to inform the public. More than 143 million Americans had their personal data compromised. Take out all of the children below 18 years old and it’s likely more than 50% of US adults. Let’s assume you have been affected.
However you don’t need to live in fear. There are steps you can take to keep your personal information safe. We have taken our time to get our tips out to you so we could compile all of the data and ensure all the information is accurate and up to date.
Here are tips to help protect yourself….
1) As a precaution you should put a fraud alert on your credit.
This is a good way to help protect your credit because lenders who pull your credit must take extra precautions to verify that it is you applying for the loan. It makes the loan process a little more cumbersome; however, a little extra time getting the loan is worth the inconvenience of your identity being stolen. You may contact any of the three credit bureaus; Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion. That one bureau will then contact the other two to add your fraud alert.
If you’d like to go through Equifax on the web follow the link below:
There are three types of fraud alerts. You’ll need to choose which one is best for you…
Initial Fraud Alert – If you’re concerned about identity theft, but haven’t yet become a victim, this fraud alert will protect your credit from unverified access for at least 90 days. You may want to place a fraud alert on your file if your wallet, Social Security card, or other personal, financial or account information are lost or stolen.
Extended Fraud Alert – For victims of identity theft, an extended fraud alert will protect your credit for seven years.
Active Duty Military Alert – For those in the military who want to protect their credit while deployed, this fraud alert lasts for one year.
2) Want even more protection? Have your credit frozen.
If you’re looking for even more protection this is a sure way to lock your credit down. No one can pull it until you unfreeze the report. Please keep in mind that this does NOT prevent illegal access to existing accounts. It can be more cumbersome in the loan process, but if you feel that your credit is at risk for identity theft, it is the best way to go. You can contact any of the credit bureaus for a credit freeze and will need to supply certain personal information. Some fees may apply for freezing your credit and/or removing the freeze, depending on the agency ($5 in NYS).
Some additional information can be found below
You may wonder which is right for you and what is the difference between a fraud alert and a credit freeze…
The FTC’s website states – A credit freeze locks down your credit. A fraud alert allows creditors to get a copy of your credit report as long as they take steps to verify your identity. For example, if you provide a telephone number, the business must call you to verify whether you are the person making the credit request. Fraud alerts may be effective at stopping someone from opening new credit accounts in your name, but they may not prevent the misuse of your existing accounts. You still need to monitor all bank, credit card and insurance statements for fraudulent transactions.
3) Monitor your credit report for fraudulent activity
We also advise taking extra steps to monitor your credit report for fraudulent activity. Credit Karma is a free website that will give you minimum coverage of your credit information. Do not put much stock in their credit scores though. Their scoring data is not timely and will rarely reflect the scores you get from credit grantors. However, they will generally alert you when a new account comes onto your credit report. You can get more information by going to www.creditkarma.com
If you would like an extra level of identity theft security and don’t mind paying then check out LifeLock. They have several plans with different levels of service and protection.
If you do have, or end up having, false identity accounts on your credit report, we can help: (518) 245-9411 moodiebluezconsulting.com
We hope this information has helped you and calmed your fears. Stay safe! If you’d like more information on the Equifax breach you can visit https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2017/09/equifax-data-breach-what-do