Equifax Data Breach: Assess Impact, Protect Yourself, Monitor
Sabal Trust takes our responsibility to protect your personal and financial information very seriously. As you may have heard, Equifax recently experienced a data breach that may have exposed sensitive personal information including Social Security numbers, home addresses, credit card numbers, drivers license numbers and birth dates. Although the breach did not involve your accounts or information at Sabal Trust, we believe it is important to communicate directly with you about this issue; as one of the largest data breaches in history, it is affecting 143 million American consumers. The Equifax breach may leave you concerned about vulnerability to identity theft, so we recommend that you take the following steps:
• Assess the impact to you
• Work to protect yourself from identity theft
• Monitor your credit accounts and reports on a regular basis
• Equifax has set up a dedicated web page to help you find out whether your information was compromised: www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.
You can also access the site through Equifax’s homepage, www.equifax.com, and if you would rather call, there is a phone line dedicated to the breach: 866-447-7559.
• Check your credit reports. The Equifax breach may have started several months ago, so consider looking through your credit reports for any suspicious activity. A free copy of your credit report is available once a year at www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 877-322-8228.
• Because Equifax is not notifying those affected directly, some people will be left without the resources to find out if they were compromised and subsequently protect their identity. With that in mind, consider helping your loved ones with this process, particularly the elderly and those without computer access.
• Consider enrolling in a credit monitoring program. Credit monitoring can help you spot errors or signs of identity theft, so you can take steps to address them.
• Consider placing a “credit freeze” to prevent someone from opening new credit using your information. When you freeze your credit, you will be required to unfreeze your account by providing the PIN you received when you froze your credit. To ensure you fully understand how it works before you start the process, visit https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs. To freeze your credit, call each of the credit bureaus using these phone numbers:
o Equifax: 1-800-349-9960
o Experian: 1-888-397-3742
o TransUnion: 1-888-909-8872
• Set a fraud alert on your credit. When a fraud alert is set, credit card companies and others will be required to verify your identity before opening an account. Once the alert is in place, it will last 90 days. To place a fraud alert on your credit, call each of the credit bureaus using these phone numbers:
o Equifax: 1-888-766-0008
o Experian: 1-888-397-3742
o TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
• Periodically review your credit report to ensure that no fraudulent activity has taken place. A free copy of your credit report is available once a year at www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 877-322-8228.
• Limit the sharing of your credit information and pre-screened offers. At www.optoutprescreen.com or by calling 888-567-8688, you can limit credit bureaus from sharing your credit file information without your authorization.
• Be vigilant during tax season. Identity thieves can use social security numbers to file fraudulent tax returns and receive refunds.
We hope the information we have provided is helpful. If you need further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us. We appreciate the trust you have placed in us and value our relationship.