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Seven Steps to Protect Yourself After the Equifax Breach

IMPORTANT SPECIAL NOTICE:

Seven steps to protect yourself after the equifax breach

From May through July, hackers exploited a website vulnerability at Equifax, one of the major consumer credit reporting agencies. This breach affected 143 million Americans. If you have a credit report, there is a chance your sensitive and personal information including Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver’s license numbers, may have fallen into the wrong hands.

Fraudsters could use this equity breach to obtain additional non-public financial information to steal funds. Please take extra steps to verify the identity of any person who contacts you and requests personal information, financial or otherwise. (For example, end the conversation and use the contact information you have on file to reach out to the caller/emailer.) If you have any questions about this, please call us to discuss.

What specific steps should you take now that Equifax has had a security breach?

Here are steps you can take now to help protect your assets and credit:

  1. Find out if you were affected. From a secure computer or encrypted network connection, go to the Equifax website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. Scroll down and click on ‘Potential Impact.’ You will be asked to provide your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number.
  2. Enroll in TrustedID Premier. If your data has been breached, Equifax will offer enrollment in TrustedID Premier. The program provides up to $1 million in ID theft insurance, Social Security Number Scanning, 3-bureau credit file monitoring, and the option to freeze your Equifax credit report.
  3. Place a fraud alert or credit freeze on your other credit reports. Experian, TransUnion, and Innovis also provide credit reporting services. Contact each of the companies to place an alert or a freeze on your credit report:
    • A fraud alert warns both current and prospective lenders they must take reasonable steps to verify your identity before providing credit. When you’re a victim of ID theft, an alert can be put in place for up to seven years.
    • A credit freeze is different. It restricts access to your credit report. If you request a freeze, the credit agency will send a letter with a personal ID number (PIN). Keep the PIN in a safe place. You’ll need it to unfreeze your accounts, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
  4. Change your passwords. Create new passwords for online banking, brokerage, and financial accounts. Each account should have a unique password. Best practices suggest passwords have 12 to 14 characters. 

    You may want to consider using a password management application. They’re designed to store and retrieve passwords so you can keep track of multiple long, unique password combinations without security issues like storing passwords improperly or failing to remember them.

  5. Activate two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication provides an additional layer of security for email and other accounts. After you enter your user ID and password, you’ll be asked for a code to verify your identity. You can have the account provider text a code to your phone, although that creates vulnerability if your phone is stolen. A better option may be to download an authenticator app so you can generate your own code.
  6. Beware email links. Some fraud attempts are obvious: text or email from a Nigerian prince or an update request from a financial institution where you don’t have an account. Others may be more difficult to spot. As a rule of thumb, if you receive an email with a link requesting you update or make changes to a financial account, don’t click on it. Call the financial institution or go directly to its website to make any changes.
  7. Keep an eye on your accounts. Check bank, brokerage, and other financial statements for suspicious transactions. If you find unauthorized activity, report it to the institution and the proper authorities.

How does Ruggie Wealth protect your information?

An occurrence such as the one which occurred with Equifax is troubling and may lead you to ask, “How does Ruggie Wealth protect my information?” 

Rest assured, our custodians have a robust program to protect client accounts and information. We use security measures that comply with federal law, including computer safeguards, with secured files and buildings. Also, Our team members are trained in the proper handling of clients’ personal information and security and are required to adhere to Ruggie Wealth protocols. 

Additionally, we have tight controls regarding who has access to client information, which is limited to those requiring such information to perform their job functions. Strict authentication standards are in place to prevent unauthorized access to client accounts online or by phone. 

If you have any questions or concerns about this breach or the markets, please contact us.

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