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What To Do if You are a Victim of the Equifax Data Breach

No doubt you have heard reports in the news about a data breach at Equifax that potentially affects 143 million Americans. We believe there are some things you should do as a precaution to reduce, as much as possible, your risk from this breach.

The Federal Trade Commission has published a good “What to Do” article that can be accessed here. This link has a good outline of steps you can and should take to minimize your risk.

In summary, we recommend the following steps:

  1. Find out if your information was exposed by visiting the Equifax website (the link is included in the FTC article above).
  2. Sign up for the free credit monitoring service offered by Equifax.
  3. Regularly check your credit reports from all three credit reporting agencies and look for activity you don’t recognize.
  4. Consider placing a credit freeze on your credit file. This will make it difficult to apply for credit so if you anticipate applying for credit, you may decide to forgo this step.
  5. If you decide not to place a credit freeze, consider placing a “Fraud Alert” on your credit file. This will alert creditors that you may be a victim and should cause them to implement more stringent steps to make sure the person applying for credit is really you.
  6. Closely monitor your bank accounts and credit cards for charges you don’t recognize.
  7. File your taxes early. The idea here is to file your return before the scammers do. This is one of the ways identify theft takes place – filing a fraudulent tax return and receiving a refund based on a false filing.
  8. We recommend you change your passwords, particularly for those websites that provide access to your money, credit cards or private information such as dates of birth, addresses, etc. This would include bank accounts, credit cards, and your email accounts.
  9. We recommend the use of a password vault to make item 8 easier and to make your passwords “stronger.” We use “Dashlane” at Patton Albertson & Miller. There is a small cost but we feel it is money well spent and it synchronizes passwords across all devices. There are other password vaults available so Dashlane is not the only option but is the one with which we are the most familiar.

If you have questions, or need help from us in completing any of this; please call us at 866-606-5554.

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