What you can do now to protect your personal credit profile

Equifax Credit Breach Update

Several days ago, Equifax, the credit reporting company, announced a security breach and hackers accessed very important personal data for over 143 million accounts.

What you can do now to protect your personal credit profile

Stay Alert and pay attention to any unknown emails or regular mail you receive.  You may want to retain this mail for future reference.  If you receive any notices or call from the IRS regarding your taxes or any bills, retain the information so you can report any fraud.

Credit bureaus track your personal data regardless of your consent.  They track it via agreements with vendors and your tax ID numbers.  There is no way to opt out.  You need to protect your personal profile.  The IRS and social security recommend that you go to the social security government website (regardless of age) and build an individual profile.  If you have 30 years of steady income and suddenly your social security number is being used to apply for a job with an income at a fraction of what is in your profile, the IRS will automatically think it is fraudulent.  Or, if they know your pattern with tax returns and someone is trying to file a tax return that does not fit your pattern, they will investigate.  I know this personally as it happened to my husband’s social security number and they have flagged our accounts to watch for future fraud. I’m thankful we had profiles on file.

Monitor your financial assets.  Make sure you check your online bank and financial accounts, and set up any alert features they may have, if you haven’t already done so.  I prefer to put the credit cards/debit card I use most often on Apple Pay so I get an alert if the card is used immediately.  I also download the apps to my phone or iPad for my other financial accounts so I can set alerts directly to my phone.  Try it – it works well.

Monitor your credit reports.  You can get a Free year of monitoring from Equifax and it’s TrustedID site, but I would rather use a different provider.  There are several other sites similar to this one by Equifax.  Keep in mind, most credit monitoring services are owned by the credit bureaus, which speaks volumes about the industry.  They offer credit report updates every 30 days.  If you join a service, make sure you do check your credit reports every 30 days to ensure that no fraudulent or incorrect information is being reported.

We are recommending that you freeze or lock your credit file.  This is going to be the best way to handle the uncertainty for now.  You can add and remove a credit freeze very easily through the credit bureaus website.  A security freeze will prevent potential lenders and fraudsters from accessing your credit report.  Your credit report will only be accessible by unfreezing the account. Some sites suggest that you apply credit monitoring to your account before you freeze.  Once you freeze, you will not be able to sign up for monitoring. There is a small cost for the freeze, but it probably will be well worth it if your information has been hacked.

Below are links to the credit bureaus and an article about how to freeze your accounts.  It is well worth reading.

How to freeze your credit/chicagotribune





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