A few weeks have passed and more information has surfaced on the Equifax data breach which we find beneficial to share with you. In case you missed our earlier alert, Special Alert: Equifax Data Breach, be sure to read it as it contains valuable information on how to determine if you were impacted and what you can do to protect yourself going forward.
Married people should check whether personally identifiable information (PII) associated with their married name and their maiden name are impacted. We are seeing a number of instances where someone’s married name is not impacted but their maiden name is even though they’ve been married for years! If you haven’t checked both your names we recommend doing so at https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/potential-impact/.
You should be aware that there is a fourth lesser known credit bureau called Innovis. Innovis appears to capture information pertaining to mortgages but doesn’t have the full extent of credit card / retail card / personal history that the three other credit bureaus do. Regardless, since personal information is accessible, it is important to also consider putting a credit freeze on Innovis as well at https://www.innovis.com/personal/securityFreeze.
Below are website links and phone numbers for freezing your credit file with the three major credit bureaus (remember, you have to freeze your credit file with EACH bureau). As there are 143,000,000 people attempting to take action, websites are timing out, crashing, etc. If you can’t get through online, try the phone numbers listed. Be patient, but be thorough.
- Equifax: https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp 800-685-1111
- TransUnion: https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze/place-credit-freeze or 866-744-8221
- Experian: https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html or 888-397-3742
Early Filing of Tax Returns
Everyone impacted should file their tax returns as early as possible. With the personal information criminals currently have, they can and may very well file fake tax returns in your name in an attempt to steal your tax refund. You won’t find out until you go to file your return. Certain states (not MA or NH) are testing a PIN requirement for filing tax returns, which could be rolled out once security issues are worked out. It surely won’t be this year, though.
Phone Scams / Email Scams
As always be hyper-vigilant for phone scams and email scams. It’s open season right now. If anyone calls and claims to be from a credit bureau, hang up. Also, don’t open emails or click on any links from someone purporting to be from a credit bureau.
We strongly recommend adding two-factor authentication to all of your bank and financial accounts. The way this works is once you login with your username and PIN, a Passcode will automatically be sent to your cell phone (or email address if you choose). The Passcode is good for a short amount of time and requires you to enter it into the website before you can access your account information. This is a very strong control to put in place because only you have possession of your cell phone or email. It’s simple to do – check the Help/Support section of your bank’s website for specific instructions on how to set up two-factor authentication.
In closing, here’s a short but good read on some of the current criminal investigations pertaining to the Equifax data breach right now: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/18/business/equifax-breach-federal-investigation.html?mcubz=0
For questions related to matters discussed above, please don't hesitate contact us.