Seriously Speaking

A security breach at Equifax…Seriously? They are the people that are telling us if our credit is good… they have the keys to the castle!!

Wake up people!!!!
Your money, your credit and even your livelihood are under attack. You only have to look at the latest breach at Equifax to know that your information is not safe unless you do something to protect it. Here are a few things that you can and should do, especially in light of the breach at Equifax:

1) Put a freeze on your credit reports at all three of the credit bureaus. Experian charged $10 here in KY. TransUnion was free and actually offers a free version of credit monitoring. Not sure about Equifax since their system is overloaded. They are offering free credit monitoring for a year. Seriously? That should be a lifetime commitment from them. Your information is out there and it isn’t going to magically disappear from the places that it will spread to simply because a year has passed.. Speaking of Equifax… their handling of this breach, from allowing the hack to not notifying those affected until 3 or 4 months later is not only incompetent it should be criminal.

All three of the bureaus allow you to initiate the freeze online. This step may slow down your ability to get loans in the future. I know that we like convenience and speed when applying for credit but so do the crooks!

2) Enroll in a credit protection plan. You’ve seen or heard the ads for Lifelock, etc. They are not the only ones that offer these protection plans. Plans range in price from about $10 a month for an entry level plan to about $40 bucks a month for most expensive plan. You will need to research these plans and match what they offer to your needs. Unfortunately, for a married couple it seems, the cost of the plans will be times two since you have to protect credit files for both files even though much of the data is the same. You may have to protect your children’s credit as well. for a family of four the cost of this service may be as much as $100 per month.
Don’t get sucked in by Equifax’s offer of free monitoring for a one year period of time. Your information, including your social security number, address, DOB, etc. are now out there forever. That horse has left the barn.

3) Monitor your credit. Make sure that balances are not going up or that new accounts haven’t been activated. You will need to monitor all three of the agencies. Use your free credit reports option and review them at least quarterly. You might not be able to stop the criminals but you may be able to limit your losses if you are exposed.

The last thing that needs to happen is we need either to come out of the Dark Ages and quit using our social security numbers as credit file identifiers or we need to go really far back into the Dark Ages and pay cash or barter for everything. The Social Security number was not intended for this purpose.

If you haven’t taken action I hope this will give you a starting point. Don’t delay. Your information may have been out there for a few months already. The websites for the bureaus are as follows:
Equifax – http://www.equifax.com
Experian – http://www.experian.com
TransUnion – http://www.transunion.com

 

Author: Patrick Cowan, CFO

I have over thirty years experience in Finance, Accounting, HR, and Business Management. Most of this has been at the Senior Management and Executive Level. I believe that small ideas can be big winners if the right dynamics are applied.

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