Retired Devo teacher Bob Miller is the BEU Financial Consultant (Bob Miller from Heath is BEU vice-president). Here’s Bob’s most recent financial message, including a workshop scheduled for October 5. Save the date!
Much Ado about Hacks
The facts about Equifax – What is Equifax? Equifax, along with Transunion and Experian, represent the (un)Holy Trinity of credit bureaus. When a creditor – like a mortgage company or a credit card company – wants to evaluate your credit worthiness, they enlist one these three agencies who provide credit reports and FICO scores – a numerical grade of your credit risk that ranges from a low of 300 to a high of 850. The three credit bureaus also market a variety of products to consumers that purport to “protect” you from identity theft and fraud.
Equifax breach: It’s difficult to fathom but between mid-May and the end of July, the personal information for 143 million Americans– including SSI number, DOB, email and home addresses – was exposed due to an Equifax security flaw or simply lax security. Even more distressing, Equifax knew that their security had been breached as early as July 29, but failed to inform consumers until early September! (Don’t overlook the possibility that you enlisted Equifax’s reporting services if you’ve taken advantage of a free credit report from Credit Karma.)
Step #1 to protect yourself – Take a deep breath – as I did – and assume that there’s an almost 50% chance that you may have been affected by this massive breach. First, visit the Equifax website: www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/. When you arrive at the site, click on the “Potential Impact” tab and input the last six digits of your SSI and your last name. In my case, the unfortunate response identified me as a potential victim.
Based on the information provided, we believe that your personal information may have been impacted by this incident. Click the button below to continue your enrollment in TrustedID Premier: Enroll
Step #2 for potential victims; Don’t Push Enroll! – Call me cynical, but I’m loathe to trust a company that has betrayed my trust along with failing to protect my financial information. Yes, they’re graciously offering a year of free credit score monitoring, but I’ll pass on engaging the fox to guard the henhouse. And I would absolutely not enroll in the Equifax’s oxymoronically named credit monitoring service, TrustedID Premier!
Step #3 for safeguarding your credit – I’ve decided to implement a three-pronged approach to ensure my financial information won’t be misused. First, I’ve been checking my credit card accounts and banking information on a regular basis. Two, I’ve obtained a free credit card report using AnnualCreditReport.com. Three, I’ve decided to place a credit freeze on my account with all three credit bureaus for the next six months – or until I feel that my credit isn’t imperiled. (While this measure will not adversely impact your credit score or prevent you from obtaining a free credit report, Experian and Transunion will charge you a $10.00 service fee.) https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs.
Let’s conclude with a spot-on comment from Dogberry, the constable from Much Ado that rings true for Equifax today. Marry, sir, they have committed false report; moreover, they have spoken untruths; secondarily, they are slanders; sixth and lastly, they have belied a lady; thirdly, they have verified unjust things; and, to conclude, they are lying knaves.