For those 106 (plus) million folks effected from the latest data breach, I wanted to give some advice.
To begin with, let me first say that this will not be the last time this will happen. Nor has it been the first. Equifax just settled with the Federal Trade Commission for their breach in the summer of 2017. At that time, roughly 147 Million folks had their data compromised. Including Personal data such as Social Security Numbers, DOB’s, Addresses, employment, phone numbers, etc.. basically everything needed for Identity Thieves to do their worst.
It happened again, with Capital One this past July, 19th. Same deal. Everything that is on a credit application, is now being disseminated across the globe. What can you do??
You can do many things, but panicking is not the most productive one. I will say, there are many suggestions out there for folks to ‘Freeze’ their credit, which is certainly an option for many who do not anticipate on using their credit for a while. The reason is, is that if your credit is frozen, you cannot open new accounts, as creditors will not be able to review your credit. It is the safest, most prudent direction to take, if you are not anticipating to use your credit for a while. You can of course, then unfreeze your credit prior to when that new inquiry and subsequent credit line is opened, but I will say, it is very tedious working with the bureaus, and they do not always do what they say they will do. Trust me, I know.
To Freeze your Credit, follow these instructions:
Another alternative would be to have a Fraud Alert placed on your file. I do have clients with these, and they do work sometimes. In short, a creditor is supposed to go through additional verification steps prior to the bureaus yielding your credit to them. It is less extreme than a ‘freeze’, and less effective.
However, for those of us who are anticipating using their credit, either now or in the near future, an alternative would be to enroll in a credit monitoring service such as Identity IQ, which we use, or the many other services provided by the bureaus. This will give you the visibility you need to keep an eye on changes to your credit report. Most notably, Inquiries. Should you be on the list of this breach’s future victims, or any breach, you first will have an inquiry into your credit. These Monitoring Services will notify you of an inquiry, typically on the same day via email. If you do not recognize the creditor inquiring into your credit, call them immediately and demand this inquiry be removed and no account be created because of it.
Unfortunately folks, this is the world we live in. Our information has been out there for a good long while. After the Equifax breach, and before that the Experian breach, it’s not a matter of when our privacy is impacted, but how many times and for how long. Part of the Equifax breach settlement includes credit monitoring for 10 years. So it is my presumption that for the next decade, those of us that were compromised, (which was pretty much everyone) will have to be vigilant for the some time to come.
If you need some help, or comfort. Give us a call. 505-327-9225