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Sales Pitches in Response to Equifax Hack Abound: What to Do Instead
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By: Teri Bernstein

 

In the aftermath of the Equifax security breach, several companies have tried to step into the marketing niche as financial-identity Hero. But the costs can be hefty: ID Shield charges $899 to handle an identity breach, and a monthly fee of $9.95 or $19.95). But most individuals haven't had a breach yet--they just want to avoid one. Here are a list of steps than an individual can take. From an insert in the article linked below, these cover most of what the identity services promise, plus a few things that are out of their jurisdiction:

 

  1. File your taxes as soon as possible. That way, someone else can't use your social security number to snag your refund.
  2. Ask your doctors' offices for copies of your medical files. This way, you have the facts, documented and dated.
  3. Go paperless. This increases the chance that you will get notices on your mobile devices, and lessens mail theft possibilities.
  4. Dedicate one computer or prepaid cell phone for all your online financial activity.  I have not taken this step, but I see how it would be extremely helpful in created a physical "firewall" against theft.
  5. Open a MySocialSecurity account. That way, someone else can't use your SSN to open an account that you can't access--or get benefits from.
  6. Freeze your credit files.  See the blog from last week on how to do this. 
  7. Sign up for free fraud alerts. That way all the bureaus will be notified if one has an alert.
  8. Read your credit reports. You can get a free report from each service bureau every year. The reports might be a dozen or more pages long, but every item needs to be checked. If you have trouble obtaining a report from any of the three bureaus, you might have a bigger problem. 
  9. Consider free credit monitoring, but understand the terms first. For example, there might be ads.
  10. Keep as few accounts as possible.  This keeps your monitoring workload down, as well as lessen that chance you might forget about something.

 

In any event, it is important to remember: NOTHING is 100% secure. Vigilance is important

 

Source: "The Post-Equifax Marketing Push: Identity Protection Services," by Tara Siegel Bernard , New York Times, October 25, 2017.

 

Discussion: 

  • List several of the sales pitches that followed the Equifax breach disclosure. How is each one potentially problematic?
  • How many of the ten suggestions listed above can you commit to? Make a plan, and a critical-path timetable to complete the items. For example, gather all of your 2016 records that you will need to complete your tax return before the end of the year, so you just have to wait for your W-2's and 1099's to complete your return in January 2018. 
  • Put reminders and calendarize events in your phone so that you will not forget maintenance items. 
  • What is phishing and how can you prevent it?