Equifax Security Breach: Are You Impacted?– October 10, 2017

Posted by Guest Bloggers Laura Springer, CFP®, CRPC®, and Kevin McPeek of Sequoia Financial Group, LLC

Equifax, one of three major consumer credit reporting agencies, recently announced that hackers gained access to company information — potentially jeopardizing the personal data of 143 million Americans. The breach may affect personal credit history, including social security numbers, driver’s licenses, credit card information and more.
 
Many people are wondering if they are personally affected in this historic breach. Below are more details, potential remedies and general tips to help protect your personal data in the future.

Check Potential Impact

As an initial step, go to the dedicated Equifax website for the security breach — www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/am-i-impacted. Enter your personal information to confirm if you have been affected. While many people are receiving the “may have been” status, our understanding is that Equifax should be contacting you by mail if you were actually one of the many affected.
 
As a consumer, Equifax will also give you the option to sign up for TrustedID Premier, which offers free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection as a result of the cybersecurity incident. TrustedID Premier will not automatically enroll or charge you after the conclusion of the complimentary year. Learn more from Equifax on this cybersecurity incident and the TrustedID Premier offering.

Be Proactive

Be aware there are many phishing sites out there now trying to take advantage of consumers who are acting to protect themselves. Read more about how to protect yourself from identity theft in general. In addition, here are a few specific measures to take:

  • Consider an identity theft protection service that is not affiliated with the Equifax breach, such as LifeLock or another provider. Cost for this type of service generally runs between $200 and $300 per year, but may have some limitations.

  • Monitor your credit reports. You are eligible to receive a free credit report from each of the three reporting agencies (TransUnion, Experian, Equifax) annually. Therefore, request one bureau’s report every four months. That way you can consistently review your credit report 3 times per year. You can order each credit report by going to www.annualcreditreport.com.

  • Do not respond to or provide sensitive information through email, mail or via phone to anyone calling claiming to be from Equifax or the IRS, or claiming that you will be arrested. As mentioned previously, Equifax is expected to directly contact affected consumers via mail.

  • Consider placing a “credit freeze” on your credit accounts. Keep in mind that this will make it more difficult and delay the process if you are applying for any sort of credit or loan account. You would effectively need to turn off the freeze to continue with your credit application.

  • Consider placing a “fraud alert” on your account. This requires creditors to take additional steps to verify your identity for any new credit inquiries. This is free and can be done by contacting any one of the three credit bureaus.

  • Continue to regularly monitor any logins and/or bank account to ensure there is no unusual activity. If something unusual is spotted, contact the institution immediately.

The FTC and IdentityTheft.gov provide some additional helpful actions to consider.

Laura Springer is a Senior Manager of Private Client Services and Kevin McPeek is a Senior Manager of Family Wealth at Sequoia Financial Group, LLC. Contact them at lspringer@sequoia-financial.com or kmcpeek@sequoia-financial.com to discuss this topic further. Or visit www.sequoia-financial.com.  
 
 
Cohen & Company is not rendering legal, accounting or other professional advice. Any action taken based on information in this blog should be taken only after a detailed review of the specific facts and circumstances.
 
The material contained herein is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual nor does it take into account the particular investment objectives, financial situation or needs of individual investors. Sequoia Financial Advisors, LLC does not provide tax or legal advice. These professionals should be consulted separately before implementing changes to your tax or legal matters. Though related entities, Sequoia Financial Group, LLC and its affiliates, and Cohen & Company, Ltd. are separate companies with common, but not identical ownership. Investment Advisory Services offered through Sequoia Financial Advisors, LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Registration as an investment advisor does not imply a certain level of skill or training.