Barbara's Beat: Credit bureaus hacked, 200 million at risk

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Credit bureaus hacked, 200 million at risk


Place a Fraud Alert or Credit Freeze on your accounts


Equifax and TransUnion, two of our three credit reporting bureaus, have been breached. Up to 200 million people may have had their names, social security numbers, addresses, date of birth, and other information stolen. 

The problem I have is that no one has been notified. Victims are being victimized twice. And, it's possible the information is already being sold on the black market.


On the Equifax website, there's no information about the site being hacked, but it does say what to do because of other situations that have recently occurred. 

Data Breach
How you should protect your identity

Data breaches are creating significant personal and financial risk for an increasing number of consumers and businesses. Breaches occur when sensitive, personal information is viewed or stolen fraudulently.

As an example, Target, one of the US's largest retailers, recently experienced a breach when hackers stole as many as 40 million card numbers, security codes and other data from credit and debit cards used at their stores. Additionally, Target recently announced that 70 million customers had their names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses hacked.

Your Equifax subscription gives you tools to help you protect yourself from identity theft, (it didn't work for the recent Target victims). It monitors your credit and alerts you within 24 hours of key changes in your credit report so you can act fast and hopefully mitigate any serious damage. They are also there to help you through the process if you are a victim of identity theft.


Placing a Fraud Alert for Equifax 

How do you place a fraud alert or an active duty alert?


You can request an initial 90-day fraud alert, or active duty alert for military personnel:
  • Online at https://www.alerts.equifax.com/
  • By calling: 1-888-766-0008
  • By mail to:  Equifax Consumer Fraud Division, PO Box 740256, Atlanta, GA 30374 *Please be sure to include your name, social security number, current and previous addresses, date of birth, and telephone number.  For your protection, you will also need to verify your identity.  See Acceptable Forms of Identification to learn more.
If you have been a victim of identity theft, you have the right to request an extended fraud alert. To enter your request, please download the  Extended Fraud Alert Request Form.  Once you've printed and completed the form, please fax or mail (instructions are on the form) along with a photocopy of a valid identity theft report as well as two additional forms of identification listed on the form.
 
Placing a Fraud Alert or Credit Freeze for TransUnion
When to add a fraud alert or security freeze
 
If you are, or suspect you may be, a victim of fraud or identity theft, place a Fraud Alert on your credit report to alert potential creditors or lenders. When alerted, they can take steps to protect you. Once you place a Fraud Alert, you can choose to remove it anytime online.
 
If you are very concerned about becoming a victim of fraud or identity theft, a Security Freeze might be right for you.
Placing a freeze on your credit report will prevent lenders and others from accessing your TransUnion Credit Report entirely, which will prevent them from extending credit. With a Security Freeze in place, even you will need to take special steps when you wish to apply for any type of credit.

Because of more stringent security features, you will need to place a Security Freeze separately with each of the three major credit reporting companies if you want the freeze on all of your credit files. A Security Freeze remains on your credit file until you remove it or choose to lift it temporarily when applying for credit or credit-dependent services.
Placing a Fraud Alert for Experian

You can add a fraud alert message to your credit report to help protect your credit information by selecting from one of the credit fraud alert options below. Fraud alert messages notify potential credit grantors to verify your identification before extending credit in your name in case someone is using your information without your consent.

Security Freeze

A security freeze is designed to prevent credit, loans and services from being approved in your name without your consent but may also delay or interfere with or prohibit the timely approval of any subsequent requests or application you make regarding new credit, loans or services.
Credit Education
Understand, Build and Manage Your Credit
Credit plays an important role in your life — affecting the purchases you make and much more. The more insight you have about credit, the easier it is to strengthen your financial well-being. For more than a decade, Experian has been America's number one provider of credit information. In addition to credit reports, we offer credit help online to teach you how to successfully manage your credit rating and protect against credit card fraud.
This breach may have stemmed from AnnualCreditReport.com where Americans are allowed to request one free annual credit report from each credit bureau. I plan to set up fraud alerts at all three credit bureaus. Then, I will request a copy of our credit reports to check if there has been any funny business. Remember, you and your spouse each have a credit report.

In the meantime, make sure you keep tabs on your bank accounts. If you aren't careful, you may have your identity stolen and be broke. It would be wise to change all of your passwords, too. I know this is a pain. I feel the pain. 

Have you been hacked? Do you have extra security?  

1 comment :

Demitra Wilson said...

Barbara, Equifax has NOT been breached. This post appears to reference a hacking incident of the AnnualCreditReport.com site in early 2013. This did not impact the integrity of Equifax systems or data. Additionally, it was Experian credit monitoring services that were provided to those affected by the Target breach. Happy to discuss if you'd like.