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 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 |
Experian |
TransUnion |
Innovis | 1-800-540-2505 |

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.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey has come—but hasn’t gone. This storm is one the Gulf Coast will remember for a long time. A sudden strengthening category 4 hurricane trapped between high pressure areas dumping a year’s worth of rain in several days is not something one plans for. However, it happened and we’re left with the cleanup.

Priority One--Are You and Your Family OK?

Our primary concern is for our family and loved ones. Loss of “things” is not easy, but loss of life is irreplaceable. We encourage our clients to let us know if they have suffered loss and how we might help. The recovery process is arduous; let us help you if we can.


Insurance agents are going to be overwhelmed with claims in the coming days. There are some things you can do to make their (and your) life a little easier:
  • Make only the repairs necessary to prevent further damage. The adjuster will need to see the full extent of the damage. TAKE PICTURES.
  • Save all receipts—replacement housing, food costs, transportation, expenses for daily living. You may be eligible to receive an advance from your insurance company.
  • Make a list of all damages as soon as possible. Document to the best of your ability.
  • File your claim as quickly as possible. Document all interactions with insurance companies, FEMA, or anyone else with whom you discuss the damage.
Homeowner’s insurance coverage usually does not cover damage from rising water; though your first contact should be with your insurance company. For rising water, the National Flood Insurance Program provides basic coverage for building property and contents. For claims not covered by insurance, check for disaster assistance as President Trump has declared much of the Gulf Coast as a disaster area. To research and apply for aid, go to

For small business owners, the U.S. Small Business Administration has low interest disaster loans for small businesses in declared disaster areas. (

A home equity line of credit may provide assistance if established before the damage was done. Check with your friendly banker.


People living in a disaster area may be allowed to delay tax filings and payments without penalty. Be sure and keep records of all costs relating to the disaster as these may be claimed as a casualty loss on tax returns.

No question that there are trying days ahead for many Gulf Coast residents. Let us at Paragon Financial Advisors know if we can help.  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.