How will this Affect the Real Estate Industry?
Was Your Information Breached?
Equifax has a website to confirm whether your information has been breached. The website is – https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/. The site will ask for some personal information and will confirm you are not a robot. It will immediately let you know if your information was compromised. Here’s a screenshot of what will be displayed:
My Information Was Breached – What Now? There are several things that should be done to protect you from fraud relating to this breach. While not an exhaustive list, here are some simple things you could payoin the long run:
1. Enroll in Equifax’s Identity Protection Program.
Equifax is offering to enroll anyone in its identity protection program, Trusted ID. The program acts as a solution to prevent identity theft and credit tampering. To register with Trusted ID, go to: https://trustedidpremier.com/consumer-registration/html/personal-info.html. You will be asked to include your personal information and once submitted, you will receive the following notification:
2. Institute a “Freeze” on Your Credit.
You can request a credit “freeze” which is a tool that restricts access to your credit report. This should make it more difficult for cybercriminals to open accounts in your name. There is a fee of around $10 per bureau to initiate a “freeze” and a similar fee to lift the freeze. Once you initiate a freeze, you will be mailed a secure code that you will need to provide to lift the freeze. For more information on the credit freeze, visit the Federal Trade Commission website at: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs. To initiate a credit freeze you need to contact each of the three credit bureaus directly through the following:
Equifax: 1-800-349-9960 or https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp
Experian: 1-888-397-3742 or https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html
TransUnion: 1-888-909-8872 or https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze/place-credit-freeze
3. Monitor Your Credit Report.
The US government allows everyone a free credit report each year from the three credit bureaus. You need to set reminders to pull and review these reports at least twice per year. If you are obtaining financing for a transaction, make sure you receive a full credit report from the financing institution and review it closely for anomalies add odd lines of credit that are unfamiliar. For information on the free credit report program and how to obtain a copy visit: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports. You may also monitor your credit through services like Credit Karma (www.creditkarma.com).
4. Initiate a Fraud Alert.
You can set an alert that will notify you if cyber criminals attempt to open accounts using your stolen information. This is the third layer of protection that is easy to add. For information on the placing a fraud alert on your credit profile simply visit: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0275-place-fraud-alert
5. Review Credit Card and Bank Statements.
The personal information stolen from Equifax took place over the past three months. It is important to take a close look at all credit card and bank account transaction statements. Cyber crime often starts out small as the test the waters and then they strike hard once they feel that no one is watching. Diligence in this area will pay in the long run.
Thomas W. Cronkright II, Esq.