In the midst of national weather disasters tragically now coupled with the mass murder in Las Vegas, the Equifax data breach story has been placed on the back-burner! But, is that where it belongs?
Applying For A Mortgage, Some Other Type of Credit Or Maybe Something As Basic As Searching For A Job?
For the tens of millions of Americans who have been affected by Equifax’s unmitigated failure to achieve any semblance of competence over one of the only tasks it was in business to do, protecting non-public information or NPI, the potential ramifications and available fixes for the American people impacted needs to be addressed.
And now, working to address personal information protection is even more critical in light of yesterdays report that ‘an additional 2.5 million Americans may have been affected by the massive security breach of the Equifax systems, bringing the total to 145.5 million people who had their personal information accessed or stolen.’ (Source: AP)
Personal Information Protection: Consider A Credit Freeze
Credit Freeze: ‘Also known as a security freeze, this tool lets you restrict access to your credit report, which in turn makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name. That’s because most creditors need to see your credit report before they approve a new account. If they can’t see your file, they may not extend the credit.‘ (Source)
Additional Steps Consumers Can Take To Protect Their Private Personal Information courtesy of Warren Goldberg at Mortgage Wealth Advisors!
Here are some things you can do to protect your personal information:
- Despite Equifax publishing a website to verify whether you’ve been affected and their offer of credit monitoring, many cybersecurity experts have advised NOT to utilize Equifax’s website!
- Check your credit reports via the free Annual Credit Report Request Service at AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling 877-322-8228.
- Review regularly your information reported on credit reports. Investigate credit inquiries which do not look familiar.
- Continuously monitor your financial accounts to identify suspicious activity. Since cyber criminals are patient, they may wait several months until they believe you’ve let your guard down, before using your data.
- Be cautious of phishing attacks, where cyber criminals send you an email or even call you posing as one of your trusted financial institutions. These emails will ask you to provide sensitive and personal information under the guise of protecting you from the Equifax breach. NEVER provide information to anyone who has contacted you. Delete the email, or hang up. Then contact the financial institution directly.
- Consider filing Fraud Alerts with all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union). This will inform creditors to be extra cautious before approving new accounts. Creditors will be required to contact you directly before any credit is extended. Note that fraud alerts must be renewed every 90 days.
- A stronger action would be filing Credit Freezes with the three credit bureaus. Keep in mind; this will prevent anyone from opening new credit accounts in your name – including YOU.
- If you believe you’ve been the victim of identity theft, learn more on how to protect yourself at IDTheftCenter.org, or call 888-400-5530.
Richard Smith: Leadership, Effective Management Or Something Else Altogether?
Former Equifax CEO Richard Smith, facing Congress today and incredibly (at least to this point) will still be receiving his pension, issued the following empty rhetoric to the American people concerning the incompetence that occurred on his watch:
“To each and every person affected by this breach, I am deeply sorry that this occurred. Whether your personal identifying information was compromised, or you have had to deal with the uncertainty of determining whether or not your personal data may have been compromised, I sincerely apologize. The company failed to prevent sensitive information from falling into the hands of wrongdoers.”
How well is your NPI being protected by your title insurance provider?
And, before you purchase a title insurance policy, do you know the answers to these three basic questions?
- Who is your underwriter?
- What is the claims experience of your title insurance provider?
- Do you know whether the non-title insurance premium fees you are paying are fair and reasonable?