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25 Facts about the Equifax hack – and what you can do to protect yourself
2. In fact, according to the company, the personal data and even some financial records for up to 143 million Americans has been compromised – which amounts to about half of the total U.S. adult population!
3. Equifax (EFX ) is a private company that’s traded on the New York Stock exchange with a mandate is to earn profits for its shareholders, which it did to the tune of over $3 billion in revenues in 2016.
4. Along with TransUnion and Experian, makes money by collecting your financial and demographic information, analyzing it in the form of a credit report, and then selling that data to lenders, banks, mortgage companies, auto dealers, credit card firms, and yes, even marketers.
5. However, although Equifax tracks the payment and credit statistics for nearly every American adult (a small number are what’s called “Credit Invisible”), they don’t seek our permission, nor is there a way to opt out or keep your data private.
6. Equifax’s negligent mishandling of the situation has been highly publicized. The timing, for one, is of grave concern. Reportedly, Equifax knew about the data breach as early as mid-May but didn’t announce the hack publically until July 29.
7. Industry reports point to the fact that the security breach in Equifax’s platform existed for nine years without being fixed, and hackers slowly siphoned off consumer information for months.
8. Signaling that some serious malfeasance took place, three high-level Equifax executives sold shares of their own holdings after the hack was discovered, but before it was made public.
9. These three inside-trading execs, including Equifax’s Chief Financial Officer John Gamble, made $1.8 million from the sales of Equifax stock – before stock prices fell upon news of the hack.
10. By cracking Equifax’s database, the cybercriminals were able to obtain consumer records including names, Social Security numbers, birthdates, addresses and driver’s license numbers – all of the information they need to open new accounts or commit identity fraud.
11. According to credit expert John Ulzheimer, those pieces of data are “the crown jewels of information for credit fraudsters.”
12. Since people’s names, social security numbers, birth dates, etc. never change, the information can be used to defraud and steal from consumers without a shelf life.
13. According to Equifax, the credit card numbers of at least 209,000 consumers were also lost in the hack.
14. Just as concerning, the compromised data may include user names, passwords, security questions and other login information for Internet websites and other financial accounts.
15. In the wake of the breach, two high-level Equifax employees stepped down this week, Chief Security Officer Susan Mauldin and Chief Information Officer, Dave Webb.
16. Shocked by the magnitude of the breach and the revelation that Equifax hid it from the American people, Equifax stock plummeted, falling from $142 per share to $92 as per the time of this writing.
17. Both the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission have initiated investigations into the hack, as well as possible Equifax impropriety. Additionally, the state attorney general of Massachusetts is suing the credit giant, and class action suits are also springing up by the day.
18. So what is Equifax doing to try and remedy the problem? The credit firm has set up a special website where consumers can log in and see if their data was included in the 143 million stolen by hackers.
19. However, you need to enter your last name and social security number to access their website – which is questionable considering the circumstances.
20. Equifax is also extending the offer of free credit monitoring service, called “TrustedID Premier,” for a year to those affected.
21. TrustedID Premier includes credit monitoring of Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit reports, a credit freeze for Equifax accounts, identity theft insurance, and a monitor to see if someone is trying to sell your social security number on the internet.
22. This may sound sufficient, but critics argue that Equifax isn’t completely forthright about their help. For instance, once the year offer expires, the service is no longer free but costs $19.95 per month. (Consumers actually have to enter their credit card number just to enroll in Equifax’s “free” year-long monitoring service.)
23. It’s been slammed as a back-door way for Equifax to reduce their liability, too. Buried within the fine print when you sign up for TrustedID Premier was a release of liability, renouncing your rights to later sue Equifax or participate in any class action suit.
25. So what should you do now?
Don’t wait until your financial accounts are hacked or your identity stolen until you act. In fact, we can almost ensure that there are more big data hacks coming, since 65% of Fortune 100 companies still use that same processing framework (called Apache Struts) that was so easily hacked at Equifax.
The best thing to do is to be proactive, starting with checking your credit reports in detail (not just score).
From there, we recommend utilizing these tools to protect your identity and finances:
Whether you take advantage of Equifax’s offer or use a trusted third-party service, credit monitoring will keep tabs on your credit report for signs of fraud or impropriety.
Establish fraud alerts with each of the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, as well as alerts for each of your credit and debit cards.
A credit freeze goes a step beyond fraud alerts in protecting you, which locks your credit files. No new accounts can be opened in your name without going through a security protocol, and only companies that you already commonly do business with will be able to make charges on your cards.
Change your passwords
It’s a good time to go through and change your passwords, for all Internet sites as well as banking, credit, and financial services. Make sure these are secure, not based on your address, birthday, name, or any personal information, and stored in a safe place.
In this extraordinary time of confusion and risk, we’re happy to provide you the information and tools you need to protect your credit – and your family’s financial future. Feel free to contact us anytime for a no-cost credit consultation.
5 Ways To Be A Victim Of Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud takes place in a variety of ways. It can occur from someone dumpster diving to high-tech hacking. Perhaps a dishonest clerk or waiter takes a photo of your credit card and uses your account to buy items. The fact is fraud can happen to even the most tech-savvy consumers. Check out these 5 common ways consumers fall victim to credit card fraud.
Not Shredding Your Bank Statements: Do you still receive paper bank statements? With online banking many consumers don’t even bother to look at the statements that come in the mail. However, if you are still receiving statements in the mail there is action that needs to be taken. If you are disposing the statements, make sure the are shredded and illegible. If you are keeping the bank statements store them at home in safe place.
Not Checking For Skimmers: Thieves may attach skimming devices to the exterior of an ATM or POS system that requires a PIN. Before using a POS system check to make sure there is no unusual device added to the machine. Glue, scuff marks, or loose materials around the machine, are signs the machine has been tampered with.
Online Banking Using Public Wi-Fi: Free Wi-Fi is becoming readily available at restaurants, coffee shops, airports, etc. across the country. How safe are these public networks? When using public Wi-Fi, it is best to not check the balance of your credit card. It is easier for hackers to intercept online transactions and passwords when you are using an open wireless network.
Responding To Phishing Messages: Have you ever received a text message from your “bank”, asking you to log into your online banking account? Be skeptical of these messages, especially if they request personal information such as your login or account number. Your financial institution has this information and won’t ask you for it. When you receive a message you are unsure of, contact your bank immediately before you respond.
Not Checking Your Account: How will you know if there are questionable charges on your credit card if you never check your account? Open your bills and statements promptly. If you see a questionable charge, report it!
If you or a loved one has been a victim of credit card fraud, contact Nationwide Credit Clearing to learn how we can help you. Call today (773) 862-7700.
“Home of the Free Credit Report & Consultation”
2336 N. Damen
Chicago, IL 60647
Toll Free: 877-334-3296
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Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud can be a critical matter. For victims, it can be a frightening experience. Nobody wants to live their life on edge, but it always seems that credit card theft could happen at some really unexpected times. Although there is no guarantee that anybody is free from becoming a VICTIM OF IDENTITY THEFT, there are certain things that can be done to decrease your chances of you falling victim to credit fraud.
- Check ATMs and gas pumps for loose parts or suspicious keypads. If you discover something suspicious, you need to inform the service station or bank, and transact your business at a different store or location.
- Check your credit card statements for strange charges. CHECKING YOUR CREDIT REPORT on a regular basis can allow you to react much better to fraud or identity theft.
- Be careful when opening the Internet in public. Unlike home or office WiFi networks, there’s a large # of WiFi spots that don’t encrypt the info being transmitted through them. Your email, credit cards, and even bank account, information could be fair game for a cyberpunk with the proper skills. Never share private information with a stranger on social media sites and then try to limit the private information you share with your friends.
- Don’t carry information in your wallet or purse that you don’t need. Birth certificates, Social Security cards, PIN numbers and passwords can be easily stolen. Identity thieves could be gone before you become aware of any missing information.
- Shred documents with personal information before you throw them away. Identity theft crimes are usually thought of as being high-tech in general. There are still identity thieves who do not mind foraging through a dumpster for valuable information.
Think You May Be a Victim of Fraud?
IF YOU SUSPECT you are a victim of identity theft, you might consider adding a 90-day fraud alert to your credit report. A fraud alert warns lenders that you may be a victim so they can take additional steps to verify your identity before approving a loan application. Immediately inform creditors when you suspect or have proof of fraud. Take time to document every contact. Be sure you thoroughly comprehend the process of reporting fraud & what’s expected of yourself as well as the creditor.
Preventing credit card fraud takes a conscious effort. Protecting your credit card information begins with you.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of identity theft or credit card fraud, Nationwide Credit Clearing can help.
Nationwide Credit Clearing
2336 N. Damen
Chicago, IL 60647
Toll Free: 877-334-3296