The Boogeyman has arrived, and it’s not even Halloween!
When you hear about identity theft, you think that it won’t happen to you. At least, that’s what I always thought, especially when you write articles and teach others how to protect themselves against such occurrences.
With the recent Equifax breach, this nightmare has hit home to millions of Americans – an estimated 143 million, in fact. When it happens to one of the big guys that is supposed to help protect us from these thieves, then it really gets scary.
So, what to do now?
Well, there are a number of steps you can take to determine if you have been subject to this breach and then, what to do about it.
First, go to the Equifax website. It will ask for information to determine whether they think you have been compromised. If so, they will provide you with one year of free credit monitoring and identity theft protection services. Once you enroll, you will be sent an e-mail to confirm your enrollment. However, there is a very high enrollment rate, so the e-mail may take some time to arrive.
What should you do in the meantime? The same things that I have suggested that you do in another article, which are steps that you should always take to protect your identity.
I will list a few here:
- Obtain a copy of your credit report! That’s an obvious one. Check it for errors, unauthorized information, etc.
- Lock your credit report so that new creditors can’t access it unless you unlock it. Then, monitor the file on a regular basis.
- Consider using a credit monitoring company. You may even have a service available to you from your bank or other financial company. There are other companies available that offer a variety of fee based services.
- If need be, freeze your credit report. You will have to contact each agency to do so, but if the breach is serious enough, it will be worth the effort.
- Everyday efforts should include never having your Social Security card in your wallet or purse, maintaining strict controls over passwords and using ones that are not easy to figure out, utilizing a single credit card with a low limit for online purchases and shredding sensitive documents on a regular basis.
We live in a brave new world and we must take steps to protect ourselves. It’s not fun and certainly entails taking additional precautions, but as the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”!
Old North State Trust, LLC (ONST) periodically produces publications as a service to clients and friends. The information contained in these publications is intended to provide general information about issues related to trust, investment and estate related topics. Readers should be aware that the facts may vary depending upon individual circumstances. The information contained in these publications is intended solely for informational purposes, is proprietary to ONST and is not guaranteed to be accurate, complete or timely.
Susan Willett is the director of trust services and oversees all aspects of trust administration for Old North State Trust, LLC. Old North State Trust, a North Carolina chartered trust company, provides: asset management services; income, estate and trust tax consulting; retirement planning and administration; and trustee and estate services to both individuals and businesses. Old North State Trust professionals have many years of experience and for over a decade have assisted clients in identifying and reaching their financial goals. For more information, visit www.oldnorthstatetrust.com or call