September 14, 2017
Credit-reporting company Equifax reported a security breach last week that exposed sensitive personal data of approximately 143 million Americans. The compromised information included social security numbers, birth dates, addresses and some credit card and driver license numbers. Although Equifax has issued a response to its consumers about the breach, we understand you might have questions or concerns regarding the safety of your personal information.
Although none of these actions can completely prevent identification theft, we wanted to provide some best practices moving forward.
- The most important step you can take to protect your credit reputation is to monitor your financial accounts regularly, including your banking and investment accounts in addition to your credit accounts. Review your accounts online over a secure connection and notify institutions quickly if you detect unauthorized activity, here are some additional tips for increased safety and security online.
- Sign up for the free credit monitoring that Equifax is offering at https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/. Although this won’t prevent your information from fraudulent use, it can help with detection.
- Have a heightened awareness for unsolicited emails and phone calls that lure you into giving away personal data or clicking malicious links. Make sure you know who you are giving your information to.
There are also ways to create fraud alerts or even freeze your credit report, but it is ultimately up to you to determine how much difficulty you wish to build around access to your credit. For example, credit freezing blocks all companies from accessing your credit report, but it often requires a fee and is established individually by each of the four credit bureaus. Although it makes it more difficult for a fraudulent user to gain credit in your name, it will also affect your ability to qualify for a loan or open a new credit account. Each time you would like to apply for credit, you must remove the freeze and then replace it.
Nothing will completely protect you from identification theft, but these precautions and best practices can help increase your awareness of the financial and credit aspects of your life.
To our clients, you can always talk to your Tolleson advisor if you still have questions or would like assistance in evaluating what is best for you individually.