Experts from the Work/Life Resource Program (EAP), a benefit of your membership, have put together the following information to help you protect your identity.
On September 7, 2017, Equifax, one of the largest consumer credit agencies, announced that a data breach took place mid-May through July of this year, potentially affecting 143 million U.S. consumers. The data breach included Social Security numbers, names, addresses, driver’s license numbers, dates of birth, and in some cases, credit card numbers.
Equifax published a web page for consumers to visit and determine if their information was included in the breach https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. If the member’s information has been compromised, Equifax has also extended a year of credit and identity monitoring as well as insurance coverage to those involved. Equifax is not currently offering any services to remedy or restore your identity or credit should your information be used fraudulently.
It is important to note that while there are millions of people whose information has been compromised, very few have actually become victims of identity theft at this time. Accordingly, taking proactive steps to monitor and secure your identity are of the utmost importance. Here are specific steps to consider if you’re impacted by the Equifax Breach, many of which are good practices for anyone:
Check your credit reports for free at annualcreditreport.com: Accounts or activity that you don’t recognize could indicate identity theft.
Place a fraud alert on your credit file: Once you place a fraud alert with one bureau, they will alert the other two. Please visit the following link to do so. Fraud Alert
Place authentication features on financial accounts: Ask your bank to require a password or pin to complete account transactions.
DMV alerts: Next time you visit the DMV, ask if they can place a fraud alert on your driving record
Set up an account at ssa.gov/myaccount: Setting up an account with the Social Security Administration allows you to monitor your annual earnings to ensure a fraudster is not using your SSN for employment purposes. Setting up the account also ensures a fraudster doesn’t set up the account to gain further access to your information.
Security Freeze: Placing a Security Freeze with the credit bureaus locks your credit, making it inaccessible to creditors. When you place a Security Freeze, the bureaus will send you a confirmation pin number that will be used to lift your freeze. We recommend only lifting the freeze temporarily when you need to use your credit. You can remove the freeze on the credit bureaus’ websites. This must be done through each of the three credit bureaus. Click HERE for more information on how to place a security freeze.
File an IRS Affidavit: Alert the IRS of your compromised information by filling out the IRS Affidavit
Chex Systems Alerts: You can place an alert with chexsystems.com to alert banks and financial institutions of your compromised information. This will help keep fraudsters from opening bank accounts in your name.
Change all your passwords regularly: Smart account management should include complex passwords that are changed regularly. Consider making your passwords on any financial accounts different than your email passwords, and make them as intricate as possible by including letters, numbers and symbols. Place authentication features such as passwords and pins that are required to complete such actions as address changes, account updates, wire transfers or ordering new cards.
Beware of phishing emails: Once fraudsters gather identifying information, they usually send official-looking texts, emails, or phone calls to gather more data. If you click on a link or respond to a text from an unfamiliar source, it may allow the fraudster to implant malware or viruses on your phone or computer. Never click on any links in emails or respond to unknown senders of text messages. If you receive something of concern that looks official, go to that business’s secure website to get the correct phone numbers to call and inquire about messages you have received.
Beware of phone scams: If you receive a call from a bill collector or other source soliciting you for money on a past due bill, you need to validate the debt. A recent scam involved fraudsters pretending to be the IRS and collecting thousands of dollars from victims that had their personal data compromised. Always confirm debts with creditors directly and remember that most of the time you should receive a letter in the mail before a phone call.
The Work/Life Resource Program (EAP) offers a toll-free hotline staffed by experts who can suggest resources and offer support, along with unlimited access to online resources for:
- Unlimited phone/online consultations and up to three in-person sessions with a licensed counselor
- Online referrals to: care services (adult, child or special needs care, summer camps, etc.); education services (school, tutoring, test prep, etc.); family services (parenting, adoption, pregnancy, infertility, etc.); convenience services (home repair, pet care, relocation, etc.); financial planning & referrals; legal information & referrals
- Articles, tools, webinars, podcasts and more!
The support offered through the NFDA Work/Life Resource Program is free and confidential. It is available to you, your immediate family, your staff and members of their immediate family.
For more information about the Work/Life Resource Program, visit www.nfda.org/worklife (member log in required).