A Few Thoughts on Equifax Data Breach
By now, we have all heard and read a lot on the Equifax security breach. As more information reaches the public about the breach, there are a few things to think about doing now to protect yourself. Although it is not necessary to implement all of these suggestions, you should be aware that some of these tips may help you stay safe after your information has been compromised. Some quick thoughts and suggestions:
All experts are saying that the best way to protect yourself against someone taking out credit in your name is toB lockB your credit (sometimes referredB as a credit freeze).B Why? This prevents a potential creditor from running a credit check on you - something required before they will offer you credit. There are three major credit bureaus (Equifax,TransUnion and Experian)B and each must be contacted separately. Consumer Reports also mentions a lesser known credit bureau - Innovis.B B Locking your credit can be done by telephone or online. If you choose to lock your credit via telephone, we believe that unlocking your credit must also be done via telephone. Same if you lock online - you will likely need to unlock online. Is one better than another? Not sure - but consider your convenience/inconvenience if you need to unlock your credit to apply for a car loan, refi your mortgage, etc.
Be especially vigilant about phishing. The Equifax breach is bring out the fraudsters. They areB looking to fool people by email as well as telephone. Make sure your credit card companies have good contact info for you. As many of us are ignoring the incessant ringing of our land lines by telemarketers, make sure your credit card company can reach you via cell phone or email in the event they need to verify a charge. Especially important if the charge isB valid. You don't want your credit card suspended during a trip.
Don't be too quick to trust a caller that says they are your credit card company. Make the caller validate who they are. Or even better, hang up and call back using the 1-800 number on the back of your card.
Alert your credit card companies if you are planning travel overseas or even to a new domestic destination to avoid suspension for suspected fraud. Read this article fromB Consumer ReportsB on other potential personal identity concerns (and how to protect yourself) tax refunds and health insurance.