The Equifax Data Breach – What You Should Know
First, we want to assure UniWyo members that their information with us is safe and secure – UniWyo was NOT affected by this data breach. With this understood, Equifax, one of the three major credit bureau providers, recently announced that between May and June of 2017, it had 143 million records potentially exposed to hackers and other criminal enterprises due to a data breach. Data exposed included people’s names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses and other records which may have included driver’s license numbers. There were also approximately 209,000 credit card numbers exposed along with 182,000 “dispute records”.
How does this affect me?
Again, it’s important to note that the data UniWyo holds for our members, including social security numbers, still remains secure. With that said, and because Equifax holds credit information for most of the United States, if you have an active credit score, you could be at risk.
What should I do?
If you would like to know if you were affected, go to the dedicated site Equifax has set up:
Was I affected? Click “Potential Impact” in the bottom left hand corner of the web page. Here you can enter your last name and the last six digits of your SSN to see if you were potentially affected. Please be sure you are on a computer and a connection you know is safe. You can also go to www.equifax.com and find the link there. We should note that by checking with this site it does not guarantee you were not affected.
What if the website says I was affected, or I simply want to take precautions to protect myself?
There are several steps you can take to protect yourself:
If you were affected or simply want to take precautions, Equifax is offering consumers one year of free credit monitoring along with other services. To enroll, simply go to equifaxsecurity2017.com and at the bottom of the page, click “Enroll”. Again, please be sure you are on a trusted, secure computer and internet connection, ensuring you are on the correct URL. It should be noted that you will not be able to enroll for this service until September 14th, 2017.
• Check your credit reports for free by going to http://www.annualcreditreport.com/. You get one free credit check from each reporting bureau each year. By checking your credit on a regular basis, it may expose irregularities in your credit records (such as applications for loans you don’t recognize).
• Place a freeze on your credit. This is one of the best ways to protect yourself as it places restrictions on who can view your credit report. This will prevent fraudsters from trying to open loans or apply for credit cards in your name as it will not allow institutions to pull your credit score which is required for the applications. The only caveat is that you must “thaw” or un-freeze your credit records each time you wish to use them for a legitimate purpose, such as applying for a loan.
• Monitor your financial accounts closely for at least the next year. UniWyo offers alerts through home banking, as well as alerts we can set up for you, to allow you to keep tabs on all the activity on your accounts. Please call us at 307-721-5600 for assistance with this
• Purchase UniWyo’s Lifelock Service. If you’re not interested in using Equifax’ credit monitoring service, UniWyo offers the popular service “Lifelock” - a wholistic identity theft protection package. Go to https://www.uniwyo.com/Lifelock.htm for more information and to enroll.
• File your taxes as soon as possible. This prevents fraudsters from filing ahead of you in order to steal your refund or get a job in your name.
• Place a fraud alert on your credit records. This alerts the major credit bureaus that you may have been a victim of identity theft. Irregular activity will then be flagged and you may be notified in case of an event.
Also, be wary of any phone calls or emails from anyone who may have your SSN. If they use it to threaten any IRS action against you, or use it in any way to try to extort money from you, please contact authorities immediately.
You can also go to Identitytheft.gov/databreach to get further information on how to protect yourself after your data has been exposed in a data breach.