By Al Osgood, Jr. |
According to Equifax, the breach lasted from mid-May through July. Hackers targeted people’s names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver’s license numbers and credit card numbers were also stolen. This breach has affected 143 million people across the US, UK, and Canada.
Many are recommending that you place a credit freeze on your accounts with the three reporting agencies. Given the potential risk and the magnitude of the data breach, we believe that makes good sense and would recommend that you go ahead and initiate the credit freeze if not already in place.
Placing a Credit Freeze on Your Accounts
In order to place a credit freeze, you have to initiate the process with all three credit reporting agencies: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian.
This request can be placed on-line, over the phone, or via letter (US Mail). While we are very sensitive to entering a social security number on-line, we do believe that initiating the credit freeze on line is likely the most efficient way to proceed assuming that you specifically go to the website links versus clicking on any links that you might receive from unknown senders. There will likely be a small charge ($3 – $10 per person per reporting agency) in order to create the freeze. The credit freeze is individual specific and needs to be done for each person versus as a combined household, etc.
While placing a credit freeze is likely to complicate future credit needs, new account applications, etc, we believe given the potential risk and magnitude of the data breach that it is the prudent thing to do. Here are the links to the three reporting agencies to freeze your credit:
- TransUnion – Note: TransUnion will ask you to register and establish a log in/new account.
There is also an option to initiate the credit freeze by phone or US Mail. If you would prefer that option, let us know and we can provide those details as well.
Freezing your credit allows you to “lock down” your credit reports so that new credit cannot be established in your name without the use of a personal identification number (PIN) to temporarily lift the freeze. If a legitimate credit check is needed in the future, there is a process to temporarily lift the freeze. It is important to note that it may take up to three business days to lift the freeze and there may be a small fee to do so. Lastly, freezing your credit does not impact any of your existing credit relationships (i.e. current credit cards, mortgages, lines of credit, etc).
We hope this helps to provide you with some clarity about this issue. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.