Equifax data breach

Are you affected?  What to do.

Cyber criminals have hacked the credit reporting agency Equifax, exposing personal information of over 143 million consumers including Social Security Numbers, date of birth, addresses and some driver’s license numbers.

*It is important to note that Alpine Credit Union does report to Equifax, we report only information for individuals who have loans with the credit union. The data that Alpine Credit Union reports to Equifax WAS NOT involved in this breech.  Equifax has confirmed that there is no evidence that credit reporting data was accessed.*

Not all, but many adults in the U.S. were impacted, as well as hundreds of thousands in Canada and the UK.

Find out if you were impacted

With the size of this breach, it may be safe to assume your personal information may have been compromised on some level. However, Equifax has set up a website that allows consumers to check if their name is on their current list of people impacted.  You’ll need to enter your name and the last 6 digits of your Social Security number.

During this process you are also offered to enroll in Equifax’s free 12-month credit monitoring offer.

Even if the Equifax site suggests that you weren’t compromised, be aware the preliminary list is not yet complete.  Also, just because nothing looks amiss on your bank statements or your credit report now, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t always be monitoring for ID theft problems.

Take action to protect yourself

In today’s digital age, continually monitoring for ID theft is essential to protecting your financial future.  According to recent statistics, there’s a greater than 50% chance your personal information has already been exposed in one or more recent data breaches like this one.

If you don’t already have an ID theft protection service, it’s never been more important to get identity theft coverage for you and your family.  Alpine Credit Union provides members with discounted rates on the iDefend identity theft protection program.

Some consumer advocates also recommend placing a fraud alert or credit freeze with the credit bureaus to lock down your credit, but these steps are 90-day temporary measures and the bureaus typically charge fees for things like a credit freeze.

Don’t get cyber fatigued

Don’t panic!  Keep a positive, proactive attitude.  Having your data exposed through data breaches is just ONE way you can become victim of identity theft and cybercrime.  You can also get computer viruses, ransomware, and other malware that infects your computer and steals your private information.  Your email can be compromised and used to capture private information.  Social media networks like Facebook are being used by criminals to find out private information about people they want to take advantage of.

Make sure you watch your bank and credit card statements for unauthorized transactions.  Be aware of fake email scams (phishing), phone scams, and pay attention to even minor computer problems.  Watch for alerts from your ID theft monitoring service.

What to do if ID theft strikes

Act quickly if you see any unusual activity in any of these areas.  Contact your identity theft resolution provider for personal assistance in dealing with any identity theft problem.  If you don’t have an identity theft protection provider, consider enrolling in one.

To help safeguard you and your family, Alpine Credit Union provides members with discounted rates on the iDefend identity theft protection program.  With iDefend, credit union members also benefit from several additional protection benefits including semi-annual computer security checkups, social media monitoring and Cyberhood Watch membership for security alerts and education.

Click here to learn more.