Equifax Data Breach- How Do You Prepare?

equifax-data-breach-austin-mortgage-associates

 

I have been over run with phone calls and emails from past and current clients regarding the Equifax data breech. The breach is unquestionably serious. It exposed crucial pieces of personal data that criminals could use to commit identity theft, from Social Security numbers and birth dates to address histories and legal names. low are you maneuver through these very frightening waters.

Equifax plays a key role in the financial industry, making this breach more alarming than previous ones at Yahoo or retailers. The company is a storehouse of personal information, like how much people owe on their houses and whether they have court judgments against them.

Lenders rely on the information collected by three big credit bureaus — Equifax, TransUnion and Experian — to help them decide on financing for homes, cars and credit cards. Credit checks are sometimes done by employers when deciding whom to hire for a job.

WHAT YOU CAN DO  (According to Time Magazine 09/2017)

Even if you don’t know if you’re one of the 143 million, you might want to consider extreme protective measures.

Your strongest immediate option involves placing a credit freeze on their files with the major credit bureaus. That locks down your information, making it impossible for outsiders to open new accounts and bank cards in your name. But it also blocks you from opening new accounts, and might involve fees depending on the state you live in.

“The credit freeze is the nuclear option of credit protection,” said Matt Schulz, an analyst with CreditCards.com. “But in the wake of a breach this big, it’s worth considering.”

You should also be more diligent about checking your credit reports, where you can see if anyone has opened unauthorized accounts in your name . You can get those files for free once a year from the three major bureaus; use the official site, annualcreditreport.com .

It’s best to spread those requests out by getting one every four months. And you’ll need to be ready to keep checking for a while — potentially years.

“Bad guys can be very patient with data,” Schulz said.

If you’re not ready for the freeze, Ulzheimer recommends setting up fraud alerts on your files. These force creditors to contact you directly, usually by phone, for approval before approving an account.

And if you’ve been a victim of repeated identity fraud, you can request a new Social Security number with the Social Security Administration.

In addition to the emergency Equifax website, https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/, you can also call 866-447-7559 for information. The company also says it will send mail to all who had personally identifiable information stolen.

Equifax’s security lapse could be the largest theft involving Social Security numbers, one of the most common ways to confirm a person’s identity in the U.S. It eclipses a 2015 hack at health insurer Anthem Inc. that involved the Social Security numbers of about 80 million people .

Like any other breech in the financial services industry, you must be diligent and prepared. I recommend if you’re looking to purchase or refinance a home in the next 12 months you start monitoring immediately. Please feel free to reach out to my self,or my staff at Austin Mortgage Associates for advise .  You can also reach us on our website www.RoundRockMortgage.com, or email me at James@RoundRockMortgage.com

Unfortunately, this is our new normal as a society that everything we own, our data, finances and personal information live in cyber space. Here is to brighter days. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by natural disasters this last month.

At your service,

James Copeland

CEO, Austin Mortgage Associates