Attorney David R. Chenelle has forwarded the thoughts of credit expert Kim Carpentier on how to monitor the situation and changes, warranted or otherwise, to your own credit.
Here's a follow up to my announcement yesterday regarding the recent data breach at Equifax. Not everyone will be a victim of identity theft, as a result of this breach, but keeping informed can help you mitigate risk when dealing with any data breach. However, I do recommend that whether your information has been compromised or not, some, if not all of the following steps, should be taken. This is a fluid event and information will be changing as time goes by. I will attempt to keep everyone informed through postings on my LinkedIn page: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kimcarpentier/
- Stay alert: This applies to everyone, whether comprised or not. Chances are, as usual, the original figure of 143 million consumers being hacked is probably only going to grow as future investigations move forward. Pay attention to and retain any mail you receive that is unfamiliar to you, such as notices from the IRS regarding your taxes or any bills from unknown lenders.
- Initiate a fraud alert: You can set a fraud alertwith Experian. When you request a fraud alert be added with any of the three major credit bureaus, the bureau you contacted will notify the other two and alerts will be added with those bureaus as well. A fraud alert or initial security alert will warn lenders that you may have been a fraud victim. This extra precaution will notify the potential lender that they should contact you before granting any new line of credit in your name. This fraud alert will stay on your credit report for 90 days. You can renew the fraud alert when it expires.
- Monitor your financial accounts: Visit your online bank and financial accounts, and set up any alert features they may have, if you have not already done so. This could help save some time and keep you notified of any unusual events when they occur.
- Monitor your credit reports: I know that you can get a Free year of monitoring through the Equifax owned company TrustedID but I'd rather use a different provider. I use Credit Check Total www.creditchecktotal.com for myself and clients. It is owned by Experian. (FYI - most credit monitoring services are owned by the credit bureaus....Think about what that says about this industry). They offer credit report updates on a 30 day basis. Please update your report every 30 days and review it to ensure that no fraudulent or incorrect information is being reported. If anybody needs assistance reading these sometimes confusing credit reports, please feel free to reach out.
- Freeze or lock your credit file: This, I believe, is going to be the new normal. You can add and remove a credit freeze very easily through the credit bureaus website. A security freeze will prevent potential lenders and fraudsters from accessing your credit report. Your credit report will only be accessible by unfreezing the account. Here are the links for the 3 credit bureaus:
- Here's a great report on "Here's how to freeze your credit to protect your identity." from the Chicago Tribune. FYI- calling them could just end up in frustration....use the links above....It's a lot easier. DO NOT FORGET YOUR PIN. This can be really frustrating in the future.
This is something that will affect the American credit system for years to come. I don't want to get into Why it happened or How
it happened, that's well above my pay grade. But it did happen and we need to protect ourselves from any future personal fallout.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out.
Kim Carpentier, Credit Builder www.valleycreditbuilders.com