Equifax Data Breach: What you need to know
Important Information about the Equifax Data Breach
As you have most likely heard by now, Equifax, one of the three major consumer credit reporting agencies, announced a serious data breach that exposed the personal information of 143 million American consumers. The hackers accessed consumers' names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. They also stole credit card numbers of a much smaller number of consumers (only about 209,000 people). The data breach only affected Equifax's systems - there has been no breach of Heritage South's system or the data therein.
How Do I Determine If I My Information Was Exposed?
Equifax has established a website for consumers to determine if their personal information was exposed in this data breach. Visit https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/
and click on the "Potential Impact" link at the top or bottom of the page. You will be asked to provide your last name and the last 6 digits of your social security number to see if your information was affected. In addition to the website, Equifax will send direct mail notices at a later date to consumers whose credit card numbers were impacted.
Whether or not your information was exposed, U.S. consumers can get a year of free credit monitoring provided by Equifax. When you visit the Equifax site to check if you were affected, you will receive an enrollment date for their TrustedID service. You should return to the website on or after that date to continue the enrollment and activation process. The enrollment period ends on Tuesday, November 21, 2017.
What is Heritage South Doing?
Member security is our top priority. Heritage South constantly monitors accounts for fraudulent activity. The next time you visit a Heritage South location, we strongly encourage you to speak with a representative about adding a "password or passphrase" to your account. We typically ask for personal information (such as last 4 digits of your social security number) to verify your identity, but that information could have been exposed in the Equifax data breach. This account password adds an additional layer of security, only visible to us, to your account that we will request for verification of you over the phone or in person. While you are in, ask if we have a current member photo on file for you. This would prevent someone from accessing your account in person by claiming to be you.
What Else Can I Do To Protect My Information?
- Check Credit Reports: Visit https://www.annualcreditreport.com/ to request your free yearly credit report from all three credit bureaus. It's best to spread those requests out by getting one from a different credit bureau every four months. And you may need to be ready to keep checking for a long time — potentially years.
- Update Usernames and Passwords: You should reset account passwords, PIN codes and other log-in credentials on accounts that may be vulnerable.
- Monitor Your Accounts and Statements: Keep a close eye on account activity for all of your checking accounts and credit cards. Heritage South Members can use Online Account Access or our Mobile App to monitor accounts 24/7. Credit card accounts can be accessed through the "MyCardInfo" tab in our online account access or mobile app.
- Signup for Account Alerts: In addition to monitoring your accounts, we encourage you to signup for account alerts to be notified when certain transactions occur. Our smsGuardian service will send you a text message whenever your Heritage South debit card is used for a purchase over $100 or out-of-state. Our online account access also allows you to setup a variety of text or email alerts. Visit the "Settings" tab in your online account, then click "Alerts" to activate. HSCCU credit card holders can setup similar alerts through the "MyCardInfo" tab.
- Consider a Credit Freeze: A credit freeze will prevent new lines of credit from being issued, but it is a complicated step. Consumers must contact each credit agency and follow their procedures. Doing so will mean consumers won't be able to open credit cards or take a mortgage or car loan themselves, and unfreezing the credit may take some time. Fees for a credit freeze vary based on where you live, but commonly range from $5 to $10. If you decide against a credit freeze, you might consider placing a fraud alert on your files. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and that they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name is really you. The Federal Trade Commission website has more information on credit freezes and fraud alerts.
- Additional Credit Monitoring: If you are interested in additional identity theft protection, Heritage South Insurance Services does offer LifeLock ID theft protection. You can learn more about this service by clicking here.
As always, if you see or suspect fraudulent activity on your Heritage South accounts, we ask that you contact us immediately at 931-680-1400.