143 million US consumers may be at risk of identity theft due to the recent data breach at Equifax, one of the three major credit reporting agencies. MECU encourages everyone to go to the website set up by Equifax at www.equifaxsecurity2017.com and click on the POTENTIAL IMPACT button at the bottom of the page in order to determine if you are affected. You will need to enter your last name and the last six digits of your social security number.
If you are one of the 143 million affected, this will be the response: “Based on the information provided, we believe that your personal information may have been impacted by this incident.” If you receive this response, you need to take action to protect yourself from Identity Theft.
The first step is to consider “freezing” your credit report with the three reporting agencies—Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. By freezing your account you are denying everyone access to your credit report. You will have to lift the freeze if you want someone to access your report for any purpose. The cost of placing or removing a freeze in the state of Montana is $3. This may be an inconvenience when you apply for credit, but is nothing compared to dealing with the aftermath of having your identity stolen! Below are the links to the three credit reporting agencies to freeze your credit report:
The ramifications of this breach may surface years down the road, so being vigilant is key. Make sure that your credit card issuers and financial institutions have your current contact information, including your cell phone number. Automatic text alerts are a great way of tracking activity on your accounts and easy to set up. You should get in the habit of looking at all of your accounts online at least once a week to make sure there isn’t any unauthorized activity.
While you are in the mode, you may want to consider requesting a security freeze for your children as well. Here are a couple of links provide information on that topic:
Krebs on Security
Finally, be sure to take precautions filing your income taxes as well--file early to deter any fraudulent refunds!
If you have questions on how to monitor your credit union accounts, please call us at 728-1034.