What is Credit… really?
In today’s world, a solid credit score is one of (if not) the most valuable piece(s) of your financial portfolio. It can easily dictate whether or not you can finance a house, boat, or even a car. It is also something potential employers tend to look at during the interview process to quickly gauge your financial habits. When your credit takes a hit, it can often take years to resolve and repair, while costing you extra in terms of interest rates. Maintaining excellent credit above the sometimes elusive 740 mark is a struggle you probably worked really hard to achieve. You are normally allowed a free copy once a year from each of the main credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
The Equifax Credit Hack
Equifax is one of the 3 primary credit reporting agencies, and they got hacked, with roughly 143 million affected Americans. Credit card numbers, full names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver’s licenses were exposed. That’s more than enough information for millions of identity fraud cases. The chances that you or someone you know that is affected are fairly high. But don’t worry, there are steps you can take. Equifax will be sending out mail to those with stolen credit card numbers, but otherwise, will not be contacting everyone.
Enroll in TrustedID
Offered for free, Equifax is providing 1 year of TrustedID to everyone. This service includes 3 credit checks of all three; Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion credit reports. Also in the service are free copies of previous Equifax credit reports, the ability to lock and unlock Equifax credit reports, identity theft insurance, and scanning of Social Security numbers on the internet. To check if you were potentially affected and to sign up for TrustedID, click HERE. If you notice any kind of activity not authorized by yourself, immediately report it to your bank or credit card agency. If you believe you’ve been a victim of identity theft, contact your law enforcement.
Freeze Your Account & Set up Fraud Alert
It is possible that your information is already being used, therefore, it’s important that you check and verify your credit for accuracy through the past several months. One option you can take if you do not have plans to make any financing purchases in the near future is to freeze your credit. This kind freeze is locked by a special PIN that you can create. Another option is activating Fraud Alert. Once set up, anytime your credit is used to open an account, a more strenuous identity verification must occur; one that the hackers hopefully don’t have enough of your data to bypass. Fraud alerts last 90 days and it is the most secure way of protecting your credit while not in a freeze.
Another step to thwart a hacker’s attempt to steal money is to file your taxes as early as possible. They can use personal info to file false tax returns in order to get refunds. If you file your taxes before they do, you will only get a notice from the IRS informing you that your taxes have already been filed and no further action is required, but you will know if a hacker has attempted.
Your personal information is very important and should be protected against those that intend to exploit it. Smart Offices offers enterprise-grade data security for personal and business use including secured emails, anti-malware and virus checks, and advanced firewall protection. Learn more about Smart Security → HERE.