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Am I Safe from Data Breach from Equifax Credit Reporting Agency Hack?

Am I Safe from knowledge Breach from Equifax Credit coverage Agency Hack?

Data breach from Equifax had recently affected over 40% of all (largest) in this country and you will be in danger financially. At risk, this includes social security numbers, birth dates, addresses for over 143 million Americans. The Equifax breach includes eleven million driver’s license numbers (although it didn’t say what percentage or that states can be impacted), and Credit Card numbers of roughly 209,000 U.S. consumers that consist of dispute documents with personal identification data for about 182,000 U.S. consumers are involved.

What should you do? How to protect me and my family? I have credit monitoring service, am I really protected?
The only credit cards affected are those that currently have Equifax Credit Monitoring services, which is one part of many credit bureaus provided services. If yours was being monitored you may want to contact the card issuer.
Equifax is providing one free year of their credit monitoring service. In addition, they provide a free Web site — www.equifaxsecurity2017.com to let people determine whether they were affected by the breach.

A word of Caution: This website is vulnerable to cross-site scripting so only go directly to this site via the direct link as listed in this document or via the main Equifax Website. Do not click a link from another site may cause you to redirect filled with hacking session and disclose additional information and cause you harm.

Fraud alerts help prevent identity thieves from opening more accounts on your behalf. Contact the following four consumer reporting companies for a free fraud number to add a fraud alert to your credit report. You just need to contact one of the three companies to raise an alert. The company you called needs to contact two other companies and they will also post an alert in their report. If you do not receive confirmation from the company, please contact the company directly to issue a fraud alert.

  1. TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
  2. Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; PO Box Atlanta, GA 30374-0241, Block 740241
  3. Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com; PO Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013
  4. Innovis: 1-800-540-2505; https://www.innovis.com/personal/creditReport, 875 Greentree Road, 8 Parkway Center, Pittsburgh, PA 15220

In addition, you may also want to opt out on the following site: ChexSystems which will reduce or eliminate many of the new credit cards offers that you receive. (see Q&A notes below)

Further Information Links:
https://krebsonsecurity.com/2017/09/the-equifax-breach-what-you-should-know/
https://krebsonsecurity.com/2015/06/how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-embrace-the-security-freeze/
https://securingthehuman.sans.org/blog/2017/09/08/awareness-officers-what-to-communicate-about-the-equifax-hack/ https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0262-stopping-unsolicited-mail-phone-calls-and-email

Relevant Q&As are below.

Q: Wait, what? I believed that was the entire purpose of a credit watching service?
A: The credit bureaus sure want you to believe that, but it’s not true in practice. These services do not stop thieves from stealing your identity to open new lines of credit, and from damaging your good name for years to come in the process. The most you can hope for is that credit monitoring services will alert you soon after an ID thief does steal your identity. The damage already is done. These services will help you to recover from the aftermath damage

Q: What purpose are these Credit monitoring services?
A: Credit monitoring services are principally useful in helping consumers recover from identity theft. These services will provide you resolution to identity theft and credit damages that need dozens of hours writing and mailing letters, and save much anguish lengthy time on the phone contacting creditors and credit bureaus to straighten out your mess. In cases wherever criminal fraud ends up in the prosecution for crimes committed in your name by an ID thief, you may incur high legal costs as well. Most of those services provide reimbursement up to an exact quantity of due expenses associated with those efforts. However, a more preferred answer is to stop thieves from stealing your identity from happening.

Q: What’re the simplest way to prevent in obtaining new credit account other than yourself?
A: File a security freeze — additionally referred to as a credit freeze — with the four major credit bureaus.

Q: what’s a security freeze?
A: A security freeze primarily blocks any potential creditors from having the ability to look at or “pull” your credit file, unless you affirmatively unfreeze or thaw your file beforehand. Without a freeze in situ on your credit file from viewing/checking your credit history, ID thieves will apply for credit in your name. However,  with a freeze on your credit, they can not obtain new lines of credit in your name. As a result, few if any creditors will extend that credit while not initially having the ability to determine however risky it’s to loan to you (i.e., read your credit file).  Every credit inquiry by anyone has the potential to lower your credit score; hence, the freeze additionally helps defend your score. A credit score is what most lenders use to make your mind up whether or not to grant you credit after you really do wish it and apply for it.

Q: What’s involved in freezing my credit file?
A: Freezing your credit involves notifying each of the major credit bureaus that you wish to place a freeze on your credit file. This could typically be done on-line, however, in a few cases, you will have to be compelled to contact one or additional credit bureaus by phone or in writing. Once you completed the applying method, every bureau can give a unique personal positive identification (PIN) that you just will use to unfreeze or “thaw” your credit in the event that you just have to be compelled to apply for new lines of credit someday within the future. Depending on your state of residence and your circumstances, you may also have to pay a small fee to place a freeze at each bureau. There are four consumer credit bureaus, including Equifax, Experian, Innovis and the Trans Union. It’s a good idea to keep your unfreeze PIN(s) in a folder in a safe place (perhaps along with your latest credit report), so that when and if you need to undo the freeze, the process is simple.

Q: What is the cost, and how can I know whether I have to pay for freezing my credit?
A: The fee ranges from $0 to $15 per bureau. That means it could cost you upwards of $60 to place a freeze with four mentioned credit bureaus (recommended). However, in most states, customers will freeze their credit file at no cost to you by the credit bureau, if you additionally provide a replica or facsimile of a police report, and in some cases an testimony stating that you, the filer believes you are or probably a victim of fraud. In many states, that police report is often filed and can be obtained online. The fee covers a freeze is kept in place by you, the customers. CustomerUnion.org contains a helpful breakdown of state-by-state fees.

Q: However what if I would like to apply for a loan, or for a new credit card?
A: You could thaw the freeze briefly (in most cases the default is for twenty-four hours) for a low fee.

Q: What’s the process of thawing my credit file? And would I require to thaw my file with all of the bureaus?
A: The best way to unfreeze your file for the purposes of applying or gaining new loan or credit card is to spend a few minutes the phone with the business from which you hope to gain the line of credit to see which credit bureau they rely upon for credit checks. It will most likely be one of the major bureaus that the business or third-party creditor deals with on a daily basis. When you know which bureau that your creditor uses, contact that bureau online or by phone and supply your PIN when you froze your credit file with them. The thawing process should take less than 24 hours, but sometimes this process may take longer and be patient. Do plan ahead and do not wait until the last minute to thaw your file.

Q: Credit bureaus make their money by selling data about me as a consumer to marketers. Does a freeze prevent that?
A: No. A freeze on your file does nothing to prevent the bureaus from collecting, data mining/reporting, and selling your information including your spending habits and preferences to marketers.

Q: After I place a freeze, am I able to use my credit or debit cards?
A: Yes. A freeze does nothing to prevent you from using your card or existing lines of credit.

Q: Okay, I’ve got a credit freeze on my account, Anything else I can do?
A: It is recommended to notify a company called ChexSystems to check for fraud dedicated to your saving and checking accounts. Thousands of banks rely on ChexSystems to verify customers that request for new checking and savings accounts. Make it more difficult for ID thieves to fraudulently obtain checking and savings accounts by contacting ChexSystems and ask to place a security alert on their credit data in your name.

Q: Anything else?

A: ID thieves love to intercept offers on new credit and insurance sent by postal mail. Destroy these offers in your mail. To opt out for five years: Call toll-free 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) or visit www.optoutprescreen.com.To opt out permanently:  Opt-Out process online at www.optoutprescreen.com.