Equifax Security Breach - Follow Up
We wanted to follow up on our last blog regarding the Equifax security breach. We realize that there is a lot of confusion regarding what to do.
Hacking of private information is unfortunately something that is probably impossible to stop. We have seen credit cards, banks, department stores, IRS as well as other institutions hacked. The list goes on and there appears to be no way to stop it. The Equifax hack shows us that nothing is safe. In the last email we discussed various options that you have regarding your credit history. (Freezing, locking, Fraud alerts). We wanted to review the options and strongly recommend the next actions steps to consider.
Assuming you want to do something to protect your information, at a minimum, consider a Fraud Alert. With a Fraud Alert, anytime there is an application for credit, the lender is notified about the Fraud Alert and will require additional proof of identity. You only need to notify one credit bureau and they will then notify the others. But it’s only good for 90 days and needs to renewed each time it expires.
You can subscribe to a credit monitoring service, but this will not prevent fraud. You will be notified of any applications for credit after the fact. While it is better to catch this early, it still doesn’t protect you. This is still something to consider though. Equifax is offering this for free for one year, but many have said they rather pay another company since they don’t trust Equifax. It’s hard to disagree with them. Others to consider are IdentityGuard, LifeLock and IdentityForce.
The strongest security, and what we are now recommending is to FREEZE or LOCK your credit history.
With locking or freezing, you need to notify each of the FOUR credit bureaus. (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion and the often forgotten Innovis) The freeze or lock stays on until you unfreeze or unlock your credit. There may be a minimal charge to unfreeze or unlock your credit and it can take up to 3 days to be opened. So if you are applying for any kind of credit you will need to unfreeze or unlock your credit first and then lock or freeze again. If you know you will be applying for credit (car loan, credit card, mortgage, student loans, etc) you can ask the lender which credit bureau they use and then only unlock or unfreeze that bureau. Each company will provide you a PIN to allow you to unfreeze or unlock your credit. Remember though, you will need to freeze or lock the credit again. This is an inconvenience but it’s better to be safe. Anyone that has ever had identity theft issues knows how much of a problem that can be.
So what to do?
Assuming you are not planning on applying for any credit in the next few months, locking or freezing makes the most sense.
If you plan on applying for credit in the next few months, then place a Fraud Alert on your credit.
There is also some confusion between Freezing and locking. Experian, Equifax and Innovis offer a FREEZE. Transunion has both a FREEZE and a LOCK. Here are the links to get the process started:
TransUnion- (You need to open an account and then add the Security Freeze)
Please let us know if you have any questions,
The FAM TEAM