Monday, September 18, 2017

The Equifax Data Breach: Protect Your Identity Going Forward

Posted by: Kelly Ford, Marketing Director, United Home Loans

As you may know, Equifax credit reporting agency announced that the personal information of as many as 143 million consumers may have been compromised by hackers. Equifax says the unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July 2017. Hackers may have gained access to Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and legal names—information that hackers could use to commit identity fraud. Equifax is one of the three credit bureaus that collect data on how well consumers pay their bills and manage credit, which impacts everything from whether you get a mortgage to the price you pay for auto insurance.

Going forward, what can I do to help protect my data? 
You may want to consult your financial advisor about taking the following steps:

Watch your credit report, bank statements, and investment accounts closely to spot anything suspicious. Check your credit report often. You can get a free one from each of the three agencies each year, so you can check one free every four months. Get them only through the federally authorized annualcreditreport.com or by calling 877-322-8228.

Consider freezing your credit, which means placing restrictions on who can view your credit report. Applying for housing, checking accounts, or new credit cards can all involve a credit pull by potential landlords, mortgage lenders, or banks. If you prevent credit pulls, it will frustrate the identity thieves who need approval to open fake accounts using your stolen identity. Please note, however, if you're in the middle of the mortgage process, freezing your credit may cause a delay. Contact your loan officer for guidance on how to proceed.

Be cautious, be aware. Toughen up your passwords. Sign-up for alerts by text or email that show activity on the accounts you already have. Be suspicious of emails or phone calls that ask for any type of personal information, including those claiming to be from Equifax.

If you are in the process of applying for a mortgage with United Home Loans, be sure to voice any concerns with your loan officer. We are here to help you review your current credit report and rebut any negative information that is falsely listed. Contact us here or at 708-531-8388 if you have any questions.


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