Dear Clients & Future Clients,
Since the advent of the Internet and the ability to do all of our “shopping” online, identity theft has become an ever-increasing problem. Just recently Equifax, one of the three big credit reporting agencies, publicly announced that their information was compromised exposing an estimated 143 million Americans to the serious threat of identity theft. With or without this current breach I have always felt it is extremely important to do everything we can to protect our private information and have spoken on this subject. On a personal level, in this article I want to discuss what you could do to help protect your identity and what you should be doing in light of the current Equifax breach.
Review your credit reports on a regular basis, I review mine annually and look for any unusual items. I have found many cases in which there was an “open” account that should have been closed many years ago. For example, maybe you paid off a mortgage but the mortgage company failed to report it to all their credit monitoring companies. You will want to get a report from all three of the major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Transunion, and Experian. You have the legal right to a free credit report each year, take advantage of this.
You may want to consider calling your credit card companies to get new cards sent to you with a change in your credit card number. They have not announced this publicly, but I would suspect that the hackers of Equifax not only had access to your Social Security numbers, and Dates of Birth, but also access to your account numbers, and driver’s license numbers. I personally have taken the time to have all my credit cards reissued.
Watch out for phishing and other scams. The people that stole this information through the Equifax hack may sell that information to other corrupt individuals. They may try scams such as calling you on the phone and using information they already have to get you to reveal other important information. Never give out things like your security codes on your credit card, or other personal information unless you are absolutely sure that you know who you are talking to and why they are asking. This goes the same for emails, if you do not recognize the sender or suspect that the email is not valid, do not open the email. By opening the attachment you may be allowing them access to your computer.
Identity theft has always been a problem and with the latest breach we need to be more vigilant than ever. At Fleming Financial Services, we have many levels of security in place for your personal information as well as very strict policies and procedures. We have firewalls in place, protective software, and we sweep our systems on a regular basis looking for any potential vulnerabilities. We take your privacy very seriously and want to help empower you with the information that you need to protect your identity as well. If you have any questions or any items we can help with, as always please do not hesitate to reach out.