Monday, September 18, 2017

Equifax Data Breach – How Should I Respond?


You’ve probably heard by now that Equifax, one of the four major credit reporting agencies, experienced a security breach resulting in the exposure of the personal information of 143 million Americans between May and July of this year.
 
While Paragon does not have a relationship with Equifax, we feel that it is important to reach out and let you know how you can protect yourself.
 
What Happened?
 
Equifax reported that hackers accessed people’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and in some cases, driver’s license numbers. They also stole the credit card numbers of around 209,000 people. Thus, your personal information may have been compromised.
 
What can I do to protect my information?
 
Rather than going to the Equifax website to assess whether your personal information may have been compromised as suggested by some, we recommend you presume it has been compromised and take the following proactive steps:
 
  1. Change the passwords to all your online accounts, particularly the accounts at your financial institutions.
  2. Check your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, Transunion by visiting annualcreditreport.com. Federal law allows you to get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting company.
  3. Consider putting a freeze on your credit with each credit reporting agency, particularly if you identify suspicious activity on your credit report. Freezing your credit is the only way to prevent those with your personal information from opening new accounts in your name. A credit freeze limits who can see your credit report information.
How do I initiate a credit freeze?

Contact each of the credit reporting agencies separately to request a credit freeze.
Equifax 1-800-685-1111 | www.freeze.equifax.com
Experian | 1-888-397-3742www.experian.com/freeze/center.html
TransUnion | 1-888-909-8872www.transunion.com/securityfreeze
Innovis | 1-800-540-2505 | www.innovis.com/personal/securityFreeze

Please note that each agency charges a fee to initiate a credit freeze (approximately $10 per agency).
 
Can I still get a credit card or a loan after initiating a credit freeze?
 
Yes, but you will need to notify the credit agencies to lift the freeze before you ask the lender to approve you for credit.

If you have any additional concerns or questions, please feel free to contact us directly.  Paragon Financial Advisors is a fee only registered investment advisory company located in College Station, TX.  We offer financial planning and investment management services to our clients.


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