You’ve been hacked!
You’ve undoubtedly heard about the recent Equifax data breach where their systems were compromised, and information on over 143,000,000 people was stolen. That information includes social security numbers, names, addresses and birthdates – all the information needed to open a new credit account.
But this isn’t the first data breach in recent memory. Do you remember these?
- Home Depot – 53,000,000 records
- Target – 70,000,000 records
- Chase – 76,000,000 records
- Sony – 77,000,000 records
- Anthem – 80,000,000 records
- TJMaxx – 94,000,000 records
- Heartland – 135,000,000 records
- Ebay – 140,000,000 records
- Mastercard – 160,000,000 records
- And now Equifax at 143,000,000 records
There are a few steps you can take today to ensure your accounts have not been compromised:
- Check your credit reports. Go to www.AnnualCreditReport.com to get your free report. There is no need to pay for credit scores – you just want to see if there are any accounts you don’t recognize. And you should do this for all of your family members.
- Place fraud alerts on your credit reports.
- Keep your eyes on your statements – Review your statements at least monthly for any charges you don’t recognize, and report them immediately.
- Sign up for credit monitoring. This only lets you know about an event after it’s already occurred, but it’s better than not knowing at all.
- Freeze your credit accounts.
The last one is the most protective. No one will be able to open credit in your name unless they have the PIN that is given to you when you freeze the account (I wonder where that information is stored?).
The credit bureaus will charge you $11 for each person’s account you wish to freeze, and that charge is per bureau. With three major credit bureaus, it will cost $33 for a resident of Washington State to freeze their account, and – get this – another $33 to unfreeze the account when you do want to open credit.
Personally, I believe Equifax should be paying for everybody’s freeze and thaw for all three bureaus due to their data loss.
UPDATE – 9/13/17 – Equifax has just announced they will not charge for you to freeze your account with their company for 30 days. It’s a step in the right direction, but this data breach will affect us all for life, and they should be covering that charge for life.
We’re all in this boat together, and we’ll all be affected. This won’t change the fact that it’s still a great time to buy a home. If you have questions about qualifying in this new era, please contact me.