As you no doubt know, the credit reporting agency Equifax recently reported a major cyber security breach. The hack exposed the personal information of an estimated 143 million Americans. When this news broke, we emailed the following information to all our contacts. Because it is always a good time to be conscious of your credit and identity security, we are reprinting the information here:
Check your credit reports.
Since the Equifax breach occurred several months ago, it is wise to check your credit reports. Look for illegitimate new accounts and activity that looks unfamiliar. You are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian). You may request them all at once, or spread out your requests. Rotating through the three bureaus with a new request every four months, for example, can be a longer-term security maintenance strategy than requesting all three at once every year. https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action
Set a fraud alert.
Equifax is providing free credit file monitoring, but for more comprehensive protection, you can place a free 90-day fraud alert on your credit report. This alert covers all three credit reporting agencies. When you have a fraud alert on your report, a business must first verify your identity before it issues credit. The alert expires after 90 days. If you wish to renew the alert after it expires, you may do so. The Federal Trade Commission explains how fraud alerts work and how to set one up: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0275-place-fraud-alert
Help those who are less tech savvy.
Consider helping loved ones utilize the resources above. Elderly individuals without computer access, for example, may be unaware of the risk and unable to take preventive actions.
Reminder to clients of Bell Investment Advisors:
You have the opportunity to use the protections offered by AllClear ID at no cost. AllClear ID has two services, and Bell clients may opt-in to either or both: 1) Credit monitoring, which can begin at any time to monitor all new credit accounts opened in the client’s name; and 2) Identity Repair, which can be enabled if you discover that you have been the victim of fraud. This Identity Repair service connects you with a dedicated AllClear ID Investigator to act as your advocate in resolving disputes and recovering financial losses. To enroll contact your relationship manager who will provide you with a code to use when you access the website: www.AllClearID.com. More details: https://bellinvest.com/bell-adds-additional-identity-protection-for-clients/
As always, please call our office if you have any questions or concerns: 510.433.1066 or 800.700.0089.