Great information for those wondering what do do about the recent Equifax Security Breach from a colleague I've worked with for many years.
If you’ve been paying attention to the news lately you probably heard that Equifax, a credit reporting agency, had a data breach that effected 143 million people.
population of the USA = 323 million people
44% of the US population could be effected by this data breach.
The data that was compromised or stolen includes:
* Social Security Numbers
* Dates of Birth
* Credit Card Numbers
* Bank Account Numbers
There are three major credit reporting agencies in the US:
* Equifax - this is the one that had the data breach
They maintain records on US consumers and report the credit worthiness of consumers to credit card companies, banks, mortgage companies, auto loan companies, etc.
They maintain FICO Credit Scores on most consumers.
There are several types of FICO credit score: classic or generic, bankcard, personal finance, mortgage, installment loan, auto loan, and NextGen score. The generic or classic FICO score is between 300 and 850, 850 being best or highest. They sometimes use different numbers for different reasons.
Your Bank or Credit Card company or Mortgage lender pay these services to keep track of your credit worthiness. Consumers rarely interface with these organizations, except to get their credit score or to try and improve it.
What you can do:
Consumers can create fraud alerts or completely freeze their ability to get new credit (which stops anyone from applying for credit in your name).
This last sentence is the key, you as a consumer can place a freeze on any new credit applications that are initiated on your identity. You as a consumer can place a fraud alert on your account.
Because of this breach, Equifax is offering free of charge their premium identity protection product for free to all effected accounts.
To find out if you were effected go to this website, operated by Equifax, read this page and then at the bottom you can use their tool to try and determine if you were personally effected and start the enrollment process:
If you were effected based on their check of your last name and the last 6 digits of your SS#, then you can schedule enrollment in their premium identity protection product for 1 year for free.
This is a personal decision you need to make.
Should I sign up and potentially expose my personal information further? I can't answer this for you! But...
They have lifted early conditions that signing up would preclude you from participation in class action lawsuits or personal lawsuits. At a minimum you should create a fraud alert on your account. But full identity protection and a full credit freeze are also possible. You will learn more and understand how to protect your identity better by going through the process.
I’ve had to do this multiple times for various reasons, yes it was painful and time consuming, but in the end I learned more, I feel more secure and am ever vigilant! Knowledge is power!
You need to learn what identity protection and a credit freeze mean and determine the best course of action for you!
To learn more and help you make your personal decision:
Federal Trade Commission - Consumer Information About this Breach:
I encourage you to look over all of these and especially Equifax to learn more and become vigilant as to the threats you are exposed to and the steps you can take to safeguard your sensitive information.
BTC Consulting continues to help you with your Information Systems Security needs and none of my current customers systems were effected by this directly.
However, the people I work with may have been personally effected and BTC Consulting recommends a complete security audit of your personal systems.
Key Things You Can Do:
* Ensure your computer operating systems either Windows, OS X or Linux are updated and always allow security or critical updates as soon as you see them.
* Ensure you have backups of all your systems and important information.
* Ensure you have disaster recovery procedures in place in the event of hacks, data breaches, or system failures.
* Consider installing a Firewall on your home and business networks.
* Change your passwords to your local computer system and on all on-line accounts and services.
* Implement a regular password change policy.
* Consider getting password management software, learn to use it, and keep all your passwords in this software. This will help you to keep track of all these passwords. I recommend “1Password” - https://1password.com/
* Use strong passwords as opposed to ones that are easy to guess. 1password provides a password generator that will generate a strong password for you that you can use for any account. And then 1password will remember that password for you, so you don’t have to.
* With 1 password you create 1 master password that gives you access to all your other passwords.
* Watch your financial accounts for fraudulent activity. And do it regularly…fraud that is caught early is easier to fix than fraud that isn’t noticed for days, weeks or months later.
* Awareness and vigilance are the most important tools you can use to protect yourself.
If you need help with any of the above, BTC Consulting is here to help you!
Call us today to learn more! 845-876-8747.
All the Best,