by Mary Trapani
Make no mistake – the Equifax breach is huge and will have a massive impact. It is very likely that you, a client, or someone you care about will be Equi-fected. I say this not to scare you but to call you to action!
Some feel Equifax is a victim since they suffered an attack. Some feel Equifax created this issue. Surely they left a door open by neglecting to install a patch that would have prevented the entire Equi-mess. For more info on that – check out this video. I’m hosting an upcoming webinar, Ransom, Cyber-Spying, and Subterfuge: Securing Your Data and Keeping the Bad Guys Out, during which you’ll learn the top 15 steps you should take to begin to secure your network and data. Being sure to install patches is definitely on the list (duh, Equifax).
Of course, no matter your feeling – the damage is done and now is the time to Equi-act!
So here is what you need to do…
If you don’t know whether or not you are affected by the breach:
- Start by trying to find out if you are, in fact, a victim of this breach. Remember, you could still be an ID theft victim even if your info was not compromised in the Equi-mess. You can use Equifax’s own tool to find out if you have been directly affected. Go to https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/potential-impact/. You will be asked to provide your last name and the last 6 digits of your social security number. Then, the tool will tell you if you are believed to be one of the 143 million affected by this breach. If you are affected, the website will offer you the ability to sign-up for some limited ID theft service for free for 1 year. But I caution you, you get what you pay for and as they say…fool me once. Rather, get yourself something better – click here for more info on top-notch ID theft services with full restoration. Check out this video where this is discussed more thoroughly. Having ID theft service in place puts you on autopilot – those services are there when you need them and you will need them sooner or later!
- Change every password – I suggest using a “password scheme” based on a “password info host.” Basically, you create your passwords based on the life of someone you know or a favorite character from a movie or book or sports figure. Then you would use their birth date, their kids’ names, their pets’ names and so on – to design your passwords. Easy to remember or even make a chart in Excel. List the password as the pieces of info you put together to make the password – for example “DOB+Dog’sName” would translate to 08031977Fluffy if you used Tom Brady as your password info host.
- Protect your computer and devices with appropriate systems.
- Don’t give your personal information out over the phone or online, unless you initiated the call or inquiry.
- Never open unsolicited emails from unknown senders – even on your phone. Never click on links or attachments in them – even on your phone. Never. Cannot say it enough! Even the “unsubscribe” link could be a troubled link – label it spam instead and move on.
- Always shred documents – it doesn’t need to be a fancy shredder – crooks are lazy – that’s why they’re crooks – any basic shredder will do.
Once you know you are affected by the breach:
Call and report it to:
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – 877-ID THEFT (877-438-4338)
- The Social Security Fraud Hotline – 800-269-0271
- The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Tax Fraud Hotline – 800-829-0433
- Your local Post Office
- All your creditors, mortgage company, credit card companies, and any other financial institutions with which you are involved.
What you should continue to do no matter what:
Because your critical info like your birth date, social security number, and so on doesn’t change and is out there forever:
- Review your credit reports from all three credit bureaus annually – I suggest you do it around your birthday or a favorite holiday each year so you will remember to do it.
- Check your credit card and bank statements every month – I know it is annoying but look for things like a small charge that shows up monthly, charges to overseas companies, and/or anything that looks odd.
- Order and review a copy of your Social Security Earnings and Benefits Statement annually to make sure no one has started collecting Social Security benefits, Social Security Disability, or other benefits under your social security number. Getting these things undone is doable but you may need a lawyer and it is work.
Take these steps and keep yourself alert. I think it is clear that the government and big business are not watching out for you – so you must take charge and Equi-act now!
Please join me for one or both of my exciting and informative upcoming webinars:
Mary Trapani is a former VP of HR and Organizational Development with almost 25 years of experience working for fortune 500 companies mostly in industrial and manufacturing areas. These experiences provided her with the invaluable skills to be an outstanding trainer, executive coach, public speaker, and risk management consultant. Mary also had her own identity stolen 14 years ago and continues to struggle with that today. These experiences thrust her into an exploration of identity theft issues and identity protection. She has a passion for helping people learn about a wide array of topics, including identity theft. For more information on ID theft services, visit www.SoonerOrLater.biz