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In light of the recent Equifax breach the question now becomes – am I a victim? What action should I take to mitigate or limit this theft? At First National information security is, and always has been, of utmost importance. Thus we have gathered some suggestions and resources for you to consider implementing after the potential loss of personal information.
I. Determine if your information was breached.
Equifax has set up a website https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com that allows consumers to check whether your personal information was potentially exposed. They are also offering free credit monitoring through TrustedID Premier for all U.S. consumers. Per the Equifax website:
“The offering, called TrustedID Premier, includes 3-Bureau credit monitoring of Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit reports; copies of Equifax credit reports; the ability to lock and unlock Equifax credit reports; identity theft insurance; and Internet scanning for Social Security numbers – all complimentary to U.S. consumers for one year.”
Equifax will mail notices to those consumers whose credit card numbers or disputed documents with personal identifying information that was impacted.
Equifax also has a call center at 866-447-7559.
II. Recommendations of Possible Personal Actions
Credit monitoring is offered by each of the credit reporting bureaus. (Equifax is offering TrustedID Premier.) With monitoring you will receive notice if suspect transactions occur. Thus credit monitoring doesn’t prevent fraudulent transactions – it only notifies you of suspect transactions so you are aware of a transaction sooner than you might otherwise have been. Therefore additional steps may be warranted.
A Credit Alert notifies users of a credit report the consumer may be or is about to become the victim of a fraud. Fraud alerts put creditors on notice additional due diligence is needed prior to extending credit.
Initial Fraud Alerts may be used if you’re concerned about identity theft but haven’t yet become a victim. Initial Fraud Alerts stay on a credit report for a period of 90 days.
Extended Fraud Alerts may be used if you have actually been a victim of identity theft. Extended Fraud Alerts stay on a credit report for seven years. Extended fraud alerts many times require the consumer to file a police report.
Active Duty Military Alerts are for members of the military who want to protect their credit while deployed. Active Duty Military Alerts stay on a credit report for one year.
To place a credit alert contact any ONE of the credit reporting agencies. They will contact the other two agencies on your behalf. Credit Alerts allow creditors to get a copy of your credit report.
Placing a Credit Freeze with all three credit reporting agencies may be warranted in some situations. Credit freezes are the most extreme and probably the most effective method of control for those whose information is suspected of being hacked. If a person’s social security number is stolen a credit freeze should be considered. Equifax is offering free credit freezes in light of the breach. Experian and Transunion charge a small fee – up to ten dollars.
Freezes prevent stolen information from being used to open new accounts in your name by restricting access to your records. To place a credit freeze you’ll need to supply your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number and other personal information. After receiving your freeze request each credit reporting company will send you a confirmation letter containing a unique PIN or password. Keep this information in a safe place as you will need it to “lift” the freeze.
To be effective you must contact EACH of the three credit reporting agencies. However every time you apply for credit, a job, insurance, cell phone service, utilities, etc. you must temporarily “lift” the freeze – which costs a small fee. The credit is lifted via a PIN or password number that was previously sent to the customer. Keep in mind credit freezes won’t help with other types of crime, such as medial or criminal ID theft or blackmail, or protect existing accounts you may already have.
Certain entities will still have access to your information – your report can be released to your existing creditors or to debt collectors acting on their behalf. Government agencies may have access in response to a court or administrative order, subpoena or search warrant.
Monitor Your Own Credit
You are entitled to one free credit report from each credit bureau every 12 months through http://www.AnnualCreditReport.com . If you have already received your credit reports within this year, placing a fraud alert on your credit files will allow renewed access. Review your reports for (1) new accounts you didn’t open; (2) credit inquires that don’t match where you applied for credit; and (3) balances that don’t match your statements.
Monitor Your Existing Accounts
Even if you have placed a credit freeze on your account it does not prevent fraudulent charges on an existing account. Be sure to watch for correspondence from the credit card issuer – some people are being notified they are being sent a new card and their old card has been deactivated. Check your credit card statement for changes you don’t recognize. Consider signing up for text or email alerts about credit transactions.
Monitor ALL Accounts
Watch for bogus insurance or medical claims. Realize thieves may file fraudulent tax returns using your information. Be prudent and watchful. Open ALL correspondence. Investigate anything you don’t recognize. Watch your mail for your normal monthly statements. If they don’t arrive in a timely fashion call the company to ensure your address has not been changed.
Consider Opting-Out of Prescreened Credit Offers
To opt-out of prescreened credit offers call 888-5OPTOUT (888-567-8688) or go online at https://www.optoutprescreen.com . This will not prevent all offers, as some are not based on prescreening. Also if you are comparison shopping you may wish to receive these offers.
III. Contact Information
Additional resources are available on our website at http://www.fnb4me.com under the Information Tab, ID-Theft link. Or feel free to contact the bank for personalized assistance:
First National Bank – Chadron office (308) 432-5552
202 Main Street, Chadron, NE 69337
First National Bank – Ainsworth office (402)387-1842
317 N Main Street, Ainsworth, NE 69210