By The Trust Company on September 13, 2017
In response to the recent Equifax data breach, we would like to ensure that all of you, as our clients, are informed and protected. On July 29, 2017 Equifax (one of the three U.S. credit bureaus) discovered that they had experienced a data breach, which may include personal identifying information such as names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and/or driver’s license numbers. Equifax has estimated that 143 million American consumers’ personal information was exposed during this breach. In addition, approximately 209,000 credit card numbers were compromised.
What is Equifax Doing About It?
Equifax has established a website, www.equifax.com/personal for consumers to determine if their information was potentially impacted by this incident. In addition, Equifax will send direct notices to customers whose credit card numbers were impacted. Equifax has also offered free identity theft protection and credit file monitoring to all U.S. consumers for one year─even those who are not impacted by this incident. You may enroll in this complimentary service by visiting the Equifax website, https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/enroll/. There are additional reliable companies that offer identity theft protection, however the fees may vary depending on their service.
In addition to considering identity theft protection and credit file monitoring services, we also recommend that our clients consider freezing their credit. A Credit Freeze is a way to completely block others from accessing your credit report. This freeze prevents the credit bureaus from releasing your credit report without your consent. However, if you decide to freeze your credit, please understand that this may cause delays in approval of subsequent credit requests. You may also need to allow extra time for approvals on new loans, credit applications, mortgages, insurance, rental housing, employment, etc. Plan ahead by lifting a freeze a day or so before applying for new credit. You may access your credit by lifting the freeze temporarily or permanently with the PIN supplied when the freeze is put into place.
Depending on your state of residence, there are different fees for requesting, lifting, or removing a freeze. The one-time fees for each request or lift of a credit freeze are generally $5-10 for each credit bureau for each family member. You may place your request by phone, email, or online. Please be prepared to provide your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, and other personal information.
See below for links that will take you directly to the Credit Freeze page of each credit bureau.
Over the next couple of months, it will be important to monitor your account statements to identify any unauthorized charges and report them to your credit card company and financial institutions such as your bank or insurance agent. To obtain a free copy of your credit report, please visit www.annualcreditreport.com. As a U.S. consumer, you may access a free copy of your credit report one time per year from each credit bureau (totaling 3 reports per year).
If you have any questions or would like to discuss this incident with one of our trusted advisors, please contact us at 800-285-7878. Protecting our clients’ personal information is a top priority for us at The Trust Company.
Links for Freezing Your Credit
To complete a credit freeze online, please visit the following websites for the three U.S. credit bureaus.