September 8, 2017
Here are the facts, according to the FTC. The breach lasted from mid-May through July. The hackers accessed people’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. They also stole credit card numbers for about 209,000 people and dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 people. And they grabbed personal information of people in the UK and Canada too.
HOW TO FIND OUT IF YOUR INFORMATION WAS COMPROMISED:
To find out if you were affected, you can visit the Equifax website (https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/potential-impact), click on the “Potential Impact” tab and enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number. Your Social Security number is sensitive information, so make sure you’re on a secure computer and an encrypted network connection any time you enter it. The site will tell you if you’ve been affected by this breach.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO NEXT:
While I'm not a credit advisor, if you find your name is on the list, you may want to consider freezing your accounts through the 3 main credit bureaus. This makes it so that no credit can be issued unless the creditor verifies in person that it's you. We've done this in the past and found it to be a bit of pain when applying for credit. But, if you are concerned, you may want to take this step.
HOW TO CHECK YOUR CREDIT REPORT FOR FREE:
Each of the 3 credit reporting companies Equifax, Experian, TransUnion allow you to do this once a year for free. You can go to AnnualCreditReport.com to request one, or all three. In the past we have spread these out over 4 month intervals as they all basically provide the same information. This way we could check our credit more often than once a year for free.
I spent years in the banking industry as a credit card analyst, my best suggestion would be to pay close attention to any companies that have requested to see your report. It's routine for companies you have credit with to check periodically, but companies you don't have credit with could be making inquires for someone trying to steal your identity. You may want to reach out personally to any company that has made a credit request you didn't approve.
WHAT HELP CAN YOU EXPECT FROM EQUIFAX:
While they are offering a free monitoring for one year, Equifax isn't promising help fix your credit should your identity be stolen as a result of this breach. They will agree only to monitor your credit, not help you fix any problems arising from the hack. They do not offer, provide, or furnish any products, or any advice, counseling, or assistance, for the express or implied purpose of improving your credit record, credit history, or credit rating.
Plus, I am personally left wondering how I am supposed to have confidence that a company that couldn't protect my information in the first place, could be trusted to notify me of a future problem. Also note, after the first year, the cost of the credit monitoring will go up to $19.95 per month.
A WARNING ABOUT SIGNING UP FOR THE FREE MONITORING:
The Washington Post is reporting that the Equafax site's fine print may have a red flag. Buried in the terms of service is language that bars those who enroll in the Equifax checker program from participating in any class-action lawsuits that may arise from the incident. Here's the relevant passage of the terms of service:
AGREEMENT TO RESOLVE ALL DISPUTES BY BINDING INDIVIDUAL ARBITRATION. PLEASE READ THIS ENTIRE SECTION CAREFULLY BECAUSE IT AFFECTS YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS BY REQUIRING ARBITRATION OF DISPUTES (EXCEPT AS SET FORTH BELOW) AND A WAIVER OF THE ABILITY TO BRING OR PARTICIPATE IN A CLASS ACTION, CLASS ARBITRATION, OR OTHER REPRESENTATIVE ACTION. ARBITRATION PROVIDES A QUICK AND COST EFFECTIVE MECHANISM FOR RESOLVING DISPUTES, BUT YOU SHOULD BE AWARE THAT IT ALSO LIMITS YOUR RIGHTS TO DISCOVERY AND APPEAL.
This language is commonly known in the industry as an “arbitration clause.” In theory, arbitration clauses are meant to streamline the amount of work that's dumped onto the court system. But the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau concluded in the summer that arbitration clauses do more harm to consumers than good — and the agency put in place a rule to ban them.
WHAT WE DECIDED TO DO:
Both my husband and I were part of the breach so we decided it was time to take a more proactive approach than just checking our credit every 4 months. We decided to get an independant credit protection service that does offer assistance in restoring your credit should you become a victim and backs it up with a million dollar guarantee.
WHY WE CHOSE IDENTITY FORCE OVER THE OTHERS:
We chose IdentityForce over others for a few reasons. First of all, IdentityForce runs credit reports daily to keep an eye on your identity and make sure everything looks the way it should. IdentityForce is also the only identity theft protection company to be awarded the Parent Tested Parent Approval Seal of Approval. The PTPA Seal is given to companies after extreme evaluation from unbiased parent testers. They also have 1 million dollar identity theft insurance for lost wages and out-of-pocket expenses should you become a victim. And, they have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
In business for 38 years, IdentityForce has two plans to choose from, UltraSecure and UltraSecure + Credit. Both plans offer an optional ChildWatch add-on for $2.75/month or $27.50/year. ChildWatch is an add-on where IdentityForce will monitor chat rooms, websites, and blogs to make sure your child’s identity is not being compromised.
SPECIAL PRICING FOR COUPONS4UTAH READERS:
Normally priced for $17.95, Identity Force will give our readers a special discount of $14.95, when you activate through this link. You'll also get a 14 day free trial. You can cancel at anytime. Your SSN won't ever change. These hackers could save your info for years before they attempt to use or sell it. It's up to us to do our best to see that they don't.
Posted by Joani