From Mid-May to July of this year, Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit reporting agencies, was exposed to a massive data breach affecting 143 million Americans. The breach included access to people’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver license numbers. 209,000 people had their credit card numbers stolen and 182,000 people had credit dispute documents with sensitive personal information stolen.
As a response, Equifax has set up a website (www.equifaxsecurity2017.com) to find out if your information has been exposed (ensure you are on a secure computer and have an encrypted network connection when checking). In addition, regardless of whether or not your information was exposed, Equifax is giving all U.S. consumers one year of free credit monitoring and other services (enrollment ends by 11/21/2017). For more information about this breach and Equifax’s response read here (link).
Here are some other steps to take to help protect yourself after a data breach:
- Check your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — for free — by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com . Accounts or activity that you don’t recognize could indicate identity theft. Visit IdentityTheft.gov to find out what to do.
- Check your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policies for identity theft protection. Many companies are adding this service to policies for little to no extra premium. Contact your insurance agent for more information if you are not sure if you’re covered.
- Consider placing a credit freeze on your files. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. Keep in mind that a credit freeze won’t prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts.
- Monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts closelyfor charges you don’t recognize.
- If you decide against a credit freeze, consider placing a fraud alert on your files. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and that they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name really is you.
- File your taxes early— as soon as you have the tax information you need, before a scammer can. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. Respond right away to letters from the IRS.
At Alpha/Omega Coverage, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. In addition, our financial division, Alpha/Omega Financial Services, offers a complimentary financial review to all new and existing clients. Just give us a call at 718-494-4440 or send us a note at Mike@insureSI.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!
The author is providing the material and viewpoints on a generic informational basis. All references to various insurance policies, coverage terms, policy language, exclusions, definitions etc. are from a broad selection of general insurance information. It is not intended to be used for any specific policy or coverage situation. The views expressed by the author do not necessarily represent the views of the insurance companies it represents. Content has been referenced from The Federal Trade Commision