Credit Breach News And What You Can Do To Protect Your Credit
Equifax Data Breach Proposed Settlement On July 22nd, 2019 a proposed class action settlement was announced for the Equifax Data Breach that occurred in September of 2017, which exposed the personal information of over 147 million people. According to the proposed class action settlement, if approved by the federal court, there are a few options to consider if your information was exposed. Please note that none of the benefits will be available or distributed until the settlement is approved by the federal court. Option 1: File a Claim A claim can be requested via the Equifax website, calling 1.833.759.2982, or emailing: info@EquifaxBreachSettlement.com
FREE Credit Monitoring or Receive up to $125
Per the Equifax Breach Settlement website:
“At least 4 years of three-bureau credit monitoring, offered through Experian. You can also get up to 6 more years of free one-bureau credit monitoring through Equifax.”
“If you already have credit monitoring services that will continue for at least 6 more months, you may be eligible for a cash payment of up to $125. The amount that you receive may be substantially less than $125, depending on the number of claims that are filed.”
In order to be eligible for the cash payment of up to $125, you must already have a credit monitoring service and must not want to enroll in the free one. Additionally, if you or someone you know was a minor in 2017 and affected, you can receive up to 18 years in free credit monitoring. Other Cash Payments You may be eligible for a cash payment up to $20,000 cash if you spent time or money dealing with:
Unauthorized charges to your accounts
Cost of freezing or unfreezing credit report
Cost of credit monitoring
Fees paid to accountants or attorneys
Notary fees, document shipping fees + postage, mileage, phone charges, etc.
Remedying fraud, identity theft, or other misuse of your personal information
Equifax noted on their website that time is compensated at $25 per hour for up to 20 hours, and you will have to describe the actions in which you invested your time, and if filing for more than 10 hours, provide documentation that proves the misuse of your time. Option 2: Do Not File a Claim If you choose not to file a claim, you are eligible for:
Identity Theft Recovery Assistance
Free identity restoration services are available for seven years. For more information, call the settlement administrator at 1.833.759.2982
Free Credit Reports
Starting in 2020, all U.S. consumers are eligible to receive six free credit reports per year for seven years from the Equifax website, in addition to one free report from www.AnnualCreditReporting.com
Please note that the claims process has already started and the deadline to file a claim is January 22nd, 2020. Federal Trade Commission advises that the free credit monitoring option is the best value to receive from this settlement. There is a high volume of claims received and they warn that not everyone who filed a claim for the cash payments will receive the full cash amount. Not sure if your information was exposed? To confirm if you information was exposed during the 2017 breach, you can check online or call the settlement administrator at 1.833.759.2982.
Capital One Data Breach
Capital One announced on Monday, July 29th, 2019 that a hacker gained access to the personal information of over 106 million people with a Capital One credit card, or those who have applied for one. The information that was exposed included: self-reported income, birthday, social security numbers, and some bank account numbers.
According to Capital One, they immediately remedied the issue, began working with federal law enforcement, and invested in additional cybersecurity. The person accused of breaking into the Capital One server was arrested on Monday. According to a CNN report, Capital One’s CEO, Richard Fairbank stated that it is “unlikely that the information was used for fraud or disseminated by this individual.”
Capital One is continuing to work with law enforcement regarding the breach.
5 Proactive & Defensive Steps You Can Take Consumers need to ensure that they are doing their part to help with the safety and monitoring of their accounts. Below are some steps that you can take to be proactive towards protecting your accounts, as well as ways to help “batten down the hatches” if you have been affected by a data breach. 1. Credit Freeze
Placing a credit freeze is an option that offers great protection. With a credit freeze in place, no one is able to view your credit report without your permission. This can be a bit of a hassle if you want to do anything that requires a credit check, i.e. apply for a mortgage, car loan, open a new credit card, etc. However, it can be briefly unfrozen when these situations arise.
2. Regularly Review Your Credit Report & Statements
Do you see items on your credit report and statements that you do not recognize? Call the related institutions to dispute them. Often times, fraudsters will run small charges to see if the account owner is paying attention. If not disputed, they may begin to run larger expenses. Be alert!
3. Fraud Alert
You can register for fraud alert for free with TransUnion, Experian, or Equifax. When a fraud alert is placed, it will tag your credit report to let lenders know that they will need to contact you prior to extending new credit. When you register with one of the agencies above, they will forward an alert to the other two agencies. A fraud alert lasts 90 days and provides a free credit report. Additional alerts can be placed after one expires.
4. Password Updates
A password is the first line of defense for your accounts and should be frequently updated and strengthened. However, remembering these complex passwords can be difficult. A good option to help with storing all of your passwords and to generating new complex ones is to get a password manager such as LastPass.
5. Two-Factor Authentication
Many institutions now offer two-factor authentication in addition to passwords and security questions. When signing up for this, the institution may ask for your email address or cell phone number to send you a secure code that is good for a matter of minutes. The code is then entered into the website to confirm your identity. This is an excellent option as it adds a layer of security ensuring that you are present and involved during the login process.
Below is contact information for the credit reporting agencies mentioned above: TransUnion
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.