You most likely have a lot of questions about Equifax, regarding a recent breach of data impacting 145.5 million consumers. Equifax is one of the nation’s three major credit reporting agencies and maintains records of consumer credit which includes Sensitive Consumer Information. We at Strategic Information Resources resell Equifax data along with data from the other two credit bureaus. We were not involved in any way with this incident. While this breach was made direct to the Equifax platform, we would like to offer you some guidance and information so that you may provide assistance to your customers.

The Facts:
According to Equifax, the breach lasted from mid-May through July of 2017. The hackers accessed consumer names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and in some instances, driver’s license numbers. They also stole credit card numbers and dispute documents with personal identifying information. This is currently an active FBI investigation.

Steps for Consumers to Take:
Consumers are urged to contact Equifax to see if their information has been exposed or by calling 866-447-7559

  1. To find out if one’s information was exposed through the website, click on “Potential Impact” then enter the consumer last name and last six digits of the Social Security number. Use a secure computer plus an encrypted network connection.
  2. All consumers can use the site to register for a year of free credit monitoring and other services. Free enrollment through the Equifax site is available until November 21, 2017

 

Additional Steps that Consumers should Consider:
Check Credit Reports from all three national credit bureaus. Visit the Annual Credit Report website to order a free annual credit report from each of the three national credit bureaus. Any accounts or activity that cannot be easily recognized could indicate identity theft.

Consumers should visit the government websites for more information on ID Theft and Credit Freeze.

Consumers should consider placing a credit freeze or lock on their credit files. The consumer initiates the freeze or lock which prevents lenders and others from accessing the credit file. The consumer controls when the freeze or lock is lifted so he/she can legitimately make applications, so pre-planning for such events is important. Typically there are nominal fees to the consumer for a credit freeze. These fees may vary from state to state but are never more than 10.00. Each of the three credit bureaus should be contacted for the freeze or lock options. Keep in mind that a credit freeze or lock won’t prevent a thief from making changes to existing accounts.

Consumers should be monitoring their existing credit card and banking statements very carefully. Stay alert, any transactions that do not seem familiar must be explored with the institution immediately.

Consumers may also add a fraud alert to a consumer credit file if they believe they have been a victim of identity theft. By law, once the fraud alert has been initiated with any of the three nationwide credit bureaus, the alert is automatically shared with the other two. A fraud alert will include the number that creditors will call to check with the consumer before opening a new credit account.

Consumers should consider filing Federal Income Tax forms early. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses a fraudulent Social Security number to get a tax refund. Consider filing early to avoid the potential for ID Theft.

Consumers should also to research to learn more about protection after a data breach.

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) with More Information:

Q: Can you provide us with the websites to the other credit bureaus to use for freezing/ locking credit reports?
A: TransUnion (click on the “free” True Identity option)
     Experian

Q: We are getting feedback that it is difficult to reach the national credit bureaus and response times are slow, is anything being done to correct this?
A: The Equifax data breach and the magnitude of its impact were both unexpected. The bureaus say they are adding resources constantly to assist all consumers requesting assistance. At SIR we recommend consumers use the bureau’s websites for self-service. Additionally we recommend using the “Credit Lock” vs. the “Credit Freeze”. The lock allows the consumer to turn the lock on and off immediately without the assistance of personnel from the bureaus and it is real time.

Q: Does SIR offer any of these services for our customers?
A: SIR does offer assistance for consumers who believe they may be the victim of ID Theft/Fraud.
First SIR offers free Identity Care Services with every credit report we sell to our clients. If you have purchased a SIR credit report and have a consumer concerned they have been a victim of fraud, within 90 days of the credit report, that consumer has access to a ID Recovery Advocate who will manage the entire process of restoring your customer’s identity including matters involving credit. This a complement to our credit reports and provides valuable restorative services that helps the consumer and also helps you our client with processing quick loan approvals in those situations where credit may have been influenced by fraud. A flyer is attached on this valuable free SIR service, feel free to add this to your application packages so that your customers know they are covered for ID recovery services by contacting SIR.