Equifax Data Breach – Protecting Your Identity
You may have heard in the news that Equifax – one of the three major credit reporting agencies – has reported a data breach that has impacted 145.5 million Americans. If you have concerns, or to see if you information was part of the compromise, here is a link to their official statement on that breach: www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.
Protecting Your Identity
There are ways to protect yourself and your important information. Here are some steps you can take to safeguard your accounts and identity.
- Check accounts diligently. Review both debit card and credit card statements line by line each month and look for any suspicious charges. If you notice any unauthorized charges, contact your financial provider. One way to keep tabs on your TFCU accounts is by setting up Home Branch electronic alerts. These can be set up if a balance drops below a specified amount, when a check clears, if a transaction posts to your account or even a daily balance alert. To set up alerts, log in to Home Branch and click on “Other Services.”
- Check your credit report. Everyone is allowed access to a free copy of their credit report annually at AnnualCreditReport.com. Your report will show information about you from the three major credit reporting agencies. You’ll want to look for unidentified accounts or loans in your name and inaccurate information.
- Consider credit monitoring. These services provide updates about new activity, new inquiries, new accounts or sudden changes in your credit card balances. TFCU offers members a special discount on ProtectMyID™, an identity theft product available through Experian©. If your information was part of the Equifax compromise, Equifax is offering one year free of their TrustedID Premier credit monitoring service.
- Place a freeze or fraud alert. If you suspect suspicious activity, you can place a freeze or fraud alert on your credit files. These will prevent new accounts from being opened in your name but will not prevent charges on existing accounts. The fraud alert is a free service that will make the creditor take extra steps to verify your identity. There may be a small fee to place and lift the freeze, so you should only do this if you are certain of fraud. You will be given a PIN that will be needed to lift the freeze.
- Change your passwords regularly. When you change your password, don’t use the same one for all of your accounts. Also, don’t choose simple passwords that are easy to guess, such as “Password” or “1234.” Including a combination of capital letters, symbols or numbers is a good way to increase password strength.
- Watch for scam emails. If thieves have your email address, they may attempt “phishing” – posing as your financial institution or another trustworthy entity by email and trying to acquire your username, password, credit card or other personal information. Never give out your personal information by email. If in doubt, call your financial institution or retailer to verify.
- Tighten privacy settings. Be careful using social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. Don’t freely share personal information, including your birthdate, address or hometown. Thieves can use this information for fraud.
If you would like more information on how to protect yourself against identity theft and fraud, check out BALANCE. You can access their information on our Balance Financial Fitness page.