Some of you have expressed concern about the Equifax hacking and have asked what precautions should be made in light of this latest security breach. With this latest breach it should be clear that breaches of this magnitude will continue to be regular occurrences well into the future. While personal security is a broad topic, it is important to take basic steps to guard against identity theft, such as not sharing confidential information (e.g. social security number) in an email or unsecured website.
Another important security measure is to regularly check your credit report to see if there is suspicious activity on your account. An example of this would be the opening an account in your name that you are unaware of. You can see your credit history and activity at: www.annualcredit.com.
Some of you subscribe to the LifeLock service as a means of protecting your identity. It is important to note, however, that this service only notifies you of suspicious internet activity involving your confidential information and offers steps to take if your ID has been compromised. It does not actually freeze or lock down your accounts. This service cost between $110 and $275 per year.
To be sure that additional accounts are not opened in your name, some of you may want to take the additional step of freezing access to your credit information. A freeze simply locks your financial data from being shared until you give permission to release it. It does not affect your access to your current credit but will limit you on access to future credit unless you unlock access to your information. Although there is a small charge to freeze and unfreeze your data (it cost me $5.00 to freeze the reports for 2 out of the 3 major credit monitoring services) it is certainly worth the peace of mind of knowing that your information is not being shared by these agencies.
Credit Freeze Contact Information Includes:
Credit freeze contacts
- Equifax:800-685-1111, Equifax Security Freeze, P.O. Box 105788, Atlanta, GA 30348-5788 orhttps://www.equifax.com/CreditReportAssistance
- Experian:888-397-3742, Experian Security Freeze, P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013 orhttps://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html
- TransUnion:888-909-8872, TransUnion, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016 orhttps://www.transunion.com/securityfreeze
- Innovis:800-540-2505or https://www.innovis.com/personal/securityFreeze
A few good articles to read on protecting your financial information can be found at:
Chicago Tribune Article and Akron Beacon Journal article.
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