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Equifax Data Breach: What should you do now?Posted by
Last week, credit-reporting bureau, Equifax, confirmed a massive cyber security incident, which potentially compromised the personal information of about 143 million U.S. consumers.That means that the chances you are affected are pretty high.
Equifax, one of the three major credit bureaus,that included Social Security numbers, home addresses, credit card numbers, drivers license numbers and birth dates.
WERE YOU AFFECTED?
Even if you don’t think you’re a customer of Equifax, there’s a strong possibility they still have your data. As a credit reporting agency, Equifax gets information from credit card companies, banks, lenders, and retailers to help it determine a person’s credit score.
To find out if your data has been compromised, use the Equifax Impact Finder. There have been reports that this tool is less than accurate, so at this point, we suggest that any person with a credit history take action as if they were affected.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
- CHECK YOUR CREDIT REPORTS: You can view your credit reports for free at AnnualCreditReport.com. You’re entitled to get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three big agencies once every 12 months. Review it closely for unauthorized accounts or any mistakes.
- FREEZE YOUR CREDIT: One of the most reliable ways to prevent someone from opening credit cards in your name is to place what’s called a “credit freeze.” A freeze stops thieves from opening new credit cards or loans in your name, but it also prevents you from opening new accounts. So, each time you apply for a credit card, mortgage or loan, you need to lift the freeze — with the PIN you got when you froze your credit — a few days beforehand. To freeze your credit, contact each of the credit bureaus using these phone numbers:
- SET A FRAUD ALERT: A fraud alert is another way to make it hard for identity thieves to open accounts in your name. When you set a fraud alert, credit card companies will be required to verify your identity before opening an account. That, combined with the credit freeze, is a great way to keep your credit secure. To set a fraud alert, contact just one of the credit card bureaus and ask for an initial fraud alert. Once the alert is in place, it will last 90 days. After that, you’ll have to renew it. Here are the appropriate phone numbers for the bureaus (remember, just call one):
- STAY UPDATED: Equifax has created resources to assist consumers. These include online information at www.equifaxsecurity2017.com and a call center at 866-447-7559.
Don’t be a Victim — Four Ways Protect Yourself from Refinance ScamsPosted by
Buying or refinancing your home may be one of the most exciting, yet complex, financial decisions you’ll ever make. Like First Class Mortgage, many lenders, appraisers, and real estate professionals stand ready to help you get a nice home and a great loan. Unfortunately, scam artists are getting smarter, stealing millions of dollars from homeowners by promising too-good-to-be-true financing, foreclosure relief, and refinancing programs.
1. Never, ever pay fees upfront.
If they ask you to pay a fee up front to refinance, a red flag should be going up in your mind. It is illegal to request or accept fees upfront of promised results.
2. Beware of unsolicited offers from strangers.
If you receive an email, phone call or letter from a bank, lender or loan modification company, don’t trust the display name. Use the “look, don’t click” method to explore the email. Hover your mouse over any links embedded in the body of the email to see if the link address looks weird. If it does look strange, do not click it.
3. Pause before signing or sending any payments.
When pressured to sign papers or send payment immediately, hit the pause button. Have a professional review the documents before you sign something you end up regretting. Remember that you can always Contact Us.
4. Seek help from a trusted partner.
Before refinancing or modifying your loan, give us a call to see what we can do to help. If you need to modify your mortgage because you’re struggling to make payments, or if you’ve received a foreclosure notice, your lender might work with you on negotiating repayment terms.
Think you’ve been a victim of fraud or identity theft?
First, file a police report with your local law enforcement agency, then contact the Federal Trade Commission, your state attorney general’s office, and the Better Business Bureau.
* Federal Trade Commission: www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0100-mortgage-relief-scams
* Federal Bureau of Investigation: fbi.gov/investigate/white-collar-crime/mortgage-fraud
* NeighborWorks ® America: www.loanscamalert.org