Many people have been reaching out about the recent Equifax data breach. As you may have heard, this breach has impacted 142 million adults in the US… that’s a majority of adults, and it’s likely that you are personally impacted. This is a brief compilation of what we have communicated to clients over the last few days since the data breach.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has provided a decent overview of the situation with a link to the Equifax site to discover if your data has likely been stolen:
It is our understanding that the terms and conditions for the Equifax TrustedID offer does not contain an arbitration clause for this data breach event at this time. Therefore, someone impacted may be party to a lawsuit at a later date. There have been some conflicting reports on this topic.
We recently sent out a general email about credit – the hyperlink below will take you to that newsletter.
10 Ways to Protect Your Credit
Pretty basic stuff, but one of the steps is to perform a ‘Credit Freeze’. This is regarded as a fairly aggressive step since it hinders (or at least slows down) the process of obtaining a loan… even applying for a retailer’s credit card, like Kohl’s or Home Depot. However, this might be a consideration for you if you have determined that you were impacted by this data breach.
Another middle-of-the-road option is to place a “Fraud Alert” on your credit information. This alerts creditors that they should implement additional verification methods (like a phone call to the number provided when initiating the fraud alert). This temporary alert lasts for 90-days and can be re-set after it expires. Setting an alert at one credit reporting agency is communicated to the other two major agencies. Below is Experian’s fraud alert site:
Now, all of this protects against unauthorized NEW lines of credit – however, the lines of credit that are currently outstanding should be monitored closely for unauthorized activity.
Our custodian for managed assets, Charles Schwab & Co., has very robust systems in place to prevent unauthorized account activity for any assets you have managed by us. On top of that, they have a significant amount of liability insurance on each of your accounts in the event of an actual unauthorized withdrawal. Further, this has never happened in our 31 years of business with Schwab. Our clients’ privacy, data, identity and assets are our number one priority – the measures that Schwab has in place makes us confident that assets held there are safe and sound.
More information will undoubtedly be coming out about this event. The FTC.gov site is a great resource for new alerts. Please connect with us if you have any questions!
Update on September 15th:
One point to consider also – the data breach happened sometime between May and July of 2017 (Equifax stated they found out on July 29th). This means that the bad guys had your information with a few months worth of a head-start. Consider looking back on your outstanding credit lines (credit card, etc.) to check for fraudulent purchases from May thru to today.