Equifax and Other Personal Information Breaches…..What to do to Protect Your CreditSubmitted by Ascend Planning & Consulting LLC. on November 1st, 2017
Nearly every other week news breaks about another business that had its customer information compromised. The most significant of these breaches was Equifax…..a key credit -scoring organization that maintains critical information on nearly everyone.
Our team as Ascend Planning & Consulting, LLC strongly encourages you to protect your credit and financial accounts. Here are some steps that you should take:
Freeze your credit. From our experience, it will take you about 30 minutes to freeze the credit reporting for a couple with the 3 primary credit reporting bureaus. Be patient and make the calls required.
- Equifax – 1-800-349-9960
- Experian – 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion – 1-888-909-8872
There may be a small charge depending on the state in which you reside. No surprise that Equifax has “waived” their fee!!!!! Be sure to safely keep the information each service provides you, as you may need to “unlock” your credit in the future should you apply for a loan or need to have a potential employer conduct a credit review. A credit freeze does NOT affect your credit score!
Request your credit report at least once each year to confirm that there have been no unauthorized loans or inquiries. Everyone is entitled to one free check per year per reporting agency. You may wish to stagger the report requests throughout the year by requesting your report from a different reporting agency every four months. By using this approach, you will receive an updated report every four months.
There are other ways to obtain your report: https://www.annualcreditreport.com is the official site required by Federal law, but you can always use commercial providers such as Credit Karma.
If you believe your credit or identity has been compromised, visit IdentityTheft.gov, the federal government’s one-stop resource to help you report and recover from identity theft.
Consider Credit Monitoring Services: There are several options that do not require an annual fee. Often, organizations provide a free and “premium” option. For example, if you are a AAA member, you can elect their free monitoring option that alerts you anytime someone makes a credit inquiry or sends you a monthly report indicating that no inquiries have been made. Obviously, if you freeze your credit, this will prevent inquiries from being made.
Timely Review Your Credit Card and Bank Statements: Be sure to review your statements thoroughly! Look for suspicious activity and charges. Most of us will have erroneous charges appear over the course of the year. By monitoring your statements and reporting suspicious activity quickly, you will put a stop to unauthorized use and protect your credit.
Don’t become a fraud statistic……take actions today to protect your credit and financial accounts!