MBR Financial Logo

Musings and news from MBR Financial

Have you been Hacked?

Equifax, one of the three major credit agencies, announced that its data has been hacked! The Social Security numbers, addresses, birth dates, drivers license numbers and credit card numbers of up to 1.4 million U.S. consumer accounts were affected. This is arguably the most consequential data breach in history, as nearly all U.S. adults have their credit histories on file with each of the three credit bureaus— Equifax, Experian, and Transunion.


Visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/potential‐impact and enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number. The site will tell you whether your personal information may have been impacted.


Regardless of whether you have compromised credit data, Equifax will allow you to enroll in their "TrustedID Premier" service free of charge for one year. Click to continue, and you will receive the date you can enroll; write it down, as they will not send a reminder. On or after your enrollment date, return to the site and follow the "How do I enroll?" instructions. (Note: the enrollment period ends on Tuesday, November 21, 2017.)

When you return to the site, you will be asked to provide certain information to verify your identity and your email address. Several days later, you should receive an email with a link to activate "TrustedID Premier." With this service you receive a copy of your Equifax credit report, a year of credit monitoring across all three major credit bureaus, internet scanning for your Social Security number to see if it pops up on websites, and the ability to freeze or unfreeze your Experian credit for one year – again, free of charge.


We recommend that you enroll in TrustedID Premier for the year. Also, get a copy of your credit reports from all three bureaus and carefully check to see if anything unusual is listed. Report any activity you believe may be fraudulent to your local police and to the FTC at www.identitytheft.gov. You are entitled to free copies of your reports once every 12 months, as well as any time you are denied credit, insurance or employment due to your credit report. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com. Then protect your credit going forward:


Consider putting a security freeze on your information with all three major credit reporting agencies. A Credit Freeze gives you maximum control over access to your credit. You will receive a PIN that you can use to turn the security freeze on and off ‐‐ online or by phone ‐‐ to enable you to use your credit when you need it: opening a credit card, buying a cell phone, etc. If you submit a police report documenting that you were a victim of fraud or ID theft, this service is free. Otherwise, depending on your state, there is a $5‐10 fee per credit bureau to add or temporarily lift the freeze, but no cost to remove it.





The next best option is a Fraud Alert. It directs the credit report recipient to contact the consumer at several consumer providers before granting credit. However, this service only lasts 90 days, so you have to remember to put a new alert four times a year to each of the three Credit Bureaus. If you are a victim of fraud or ID theft, you can set the fraud alert for seven years. This service is free.


There are credit monitoring services you can pay to monitor your credit and inform you after your credit has been accessed (which is not protection against identity theft). Note: We do not recommend LifeLock, as they have been fined repeatedly by the government for unfair and deceptive trade practices.

Each of the three Credit Bureaus ‐‐ Equifax TrustID Premier, TransUnion Plus, and Experian CreditWorks Premium ‐‐ has their own form of credit monitoring, through which you can set up credit alerts, freeze and unfreeze your credit online, access your credit report and credit score, and be entitled to up to $1 million of Identity Theft Insurance. The monthly cost for these services varies from about $25‐ $30/month, but as mentioned above, Equifax is providing theirs free for one year. Although signing up for all three services can get pricey, it is the safest option for credit monitoring.


The Credit Freeze on all three bureaus is still the best option even if you have to pay for it. Unlike credit monitoring, a security freeze stops an identity theft from happening rather than alerting you to potential fraud after the fact, and, unlike a Fraud Alert, the Credit Freeze stays in force until you remove it.