Equifax Breach – What you can do

By now you’ve heard about the Equifax breach. Something you may want to do by November 21 is put a security freeze on your account. Until then, they are waiving fees to do this.

A security freeze is supposed to block outsiders from opening an account in your name. This is different from a fraud alert which will only notify you if someone opens an account in your name (even you).

A security freeze has you adding a PIN in order to make any changes. The three major credit monitors are TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.
Right now you can only put the freeze on Equifax for free. TransUnion and Experian will charge $10 for each. Currently there is legislation pending on making this free. If you are planning to buy a car or house you don’t want to freeze your credit just yet.

Equifax will not be calling you so if you get a call saying it is from them, it is most likely a scam.

If you enroll in their monitoring program, you would waive rights to sue if you are impacted by the breach.

Here are some links:
Equifax blog with explanation of the problem
How to put on and remove a freeze from your account
Form to fill out to get a PIN to freeze account

What do you do when you think you lost your phone?

There is nothing more discouraging than to think you’ve lost your smart phone. All your personal information could be out there! So what to do?

Safeguarding yourself:

Android:
Make sure you have installed the Device Manager app from the Play Store. It’s not enough to just download it. You need to make sure it is connected to your Google account and that your phone is verified through it. If you stil have trouble, you may need to check your location settings. They must be turned on. You must also go into your Google settings app and turn on the settings there to find your device. When I tested mine it found it and said “Right here in your hand,” so we know this will work.
Make sure you have some sort of security in place for the lock screen. Yes it’s a hassle but it’s worth it. You may have capabilities for fingerprint reading as well.
Don’t keep files with lists of passwords in your cloud drives.

iPhone:
Download and install the Find iPhone app from the App store. Make sure you do everything to set it up. Also you will need your location services on. You should be able to find your devices from your other Apple devices or from icloud.com.
Use whatever lock methods are available to lock your iPhone.
Don’t keep lists of sensitive data available.

In the case of loss or theft:

See if your carrier allows you to suspend service (with or without billing) temporarily so you can try to locate your phone.
Log into Google or iCloud.com and you should be able to either ring your device or erase the data.
Remember, even if you suspend the data plan, it can still be used through wi-fi to wipe it to factory condition and a new number installed.

Hopefully this won’t happen to you.

Jody Victor