On September 7, 2017, Equifax announced what it describes as a “cybersecurity incident” involving consumer information affecting up to 143 million customers. According to an Equifax statement the incident of unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July 2017. Information accessed primarily included names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and in some instances, driver’s license numbers.
Note that for managed accounts with Wagner Wealth, we receive notifications from Schwab for all address and email changes and new money movement requests. Should anything come through, we would contact you (by phone) to confirm that you made the request. If you would like to add an additional layer of security at Schwab, you could add a verbal password, voice ID authorization or a security token to your accounts by calling Schwab Alliance at 800-515-2157.
What can you do to help protect yourself?
- Log into all your financial accounts (banking, Schwab, etc.) and change your login passwords – using a strong, unique password for each financial institution. Best practice is to change these passwords at least every 6 months.
- Carefully monitor your credit card statements for any unknown transactions and dispute all questionable charges immediately with your credit card company.
- Periodically monitor your credit report to ensure there are not credit cards/financing taken out in your name that you do not recognize. By law, you are allowed one free credit report per year from each agency and to best utilize that, you may want to spread those reports out between the 3 bureaus every 4 months. To monitor your credit, simply obtain a report from www.annualcreditreport.com. This report will list all your current and historical credit, including balances. If you find any suspicious activity, the Federal Trade Commission has provided this guide on what to do: IdentityTheft.gov
- DO NOT click on any links on emails that appear that they are from Equifax. They could be “phishing emails” that would be requesting additional personal information from you. If you have any questions, contact Equifax directly – not from a number provided in a potential phishing email.
- Consider placing a credit freeze on your credit with the 3 credit bureaus. This prevents any credit report from being accessed and from new credit being opened while it’s on a freeze. Note charges may apply for freezing/unfreezing credit. Currently, through November 21st, Equifax is not charging to place a freeze on your credit but with consumer backlash, they may consider an extension on this. Note that there is a waiting period to have the freeze removed if you need to apply for additional credit. See the following links or phone #’s to request a freeze with each bureau.
- Equifax: https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp Automated line 800-685-1111 for additional info: 866-447-7559
- TransUnion: https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze/place-credit-freeze 800-680-7289
- Experian: https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html Customer Support: 888-397-3742
Equifax is currently offering a free credit monitoring service to everyone potentially effected which merely alerts you if someone is attempting to open credit in your name. A credit freeze will provide significantly more protection as explained above and since Equifax is the agency that was breached we don’t suggest utilizing their free monitoring service at this time.
If you have additional questions or would like to discuss how this may impact your personal situation, feel free to contact us