Advice to Protect Yourself in Response to the Equifax Data Breach

September 8, 2017

Advice to Protect Yourself in Response to the Equifax Data Breach

According to the FTC, anyone with a credit score is likely to be one of the 143 million Americans whose personal information was compromised by the recent Equifax data breach. Your name, social security number, birthday, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license information are likely to have been exposed.

What Are the Dangers of this Breach?

This particular data breach is more serious than, for example, one at your credit card company. The information compromised in Equifax’s breach does not just allow cyber-criminals to access your existing lines of credit and bank accounts; thieves could open credit cards, bank accounts or file a tax return in your name before you file for yourself. Because information like your name and social security number does not expire, this breach could have grave consequences for many years.

In addition, phishing attacks—fraudulent emails that appear to come from legitimate sources and try to convince you to provide sensitive information such as usernames and passwords—are likely to become much more sophisticated. Phishing emails become more convincing the more valid the information the cyber-criminal has at their disposal. 

Cyber-criminals will also appear more legitimate if they attempt to impersonate you or one of your partners in order to authorize wire transfers or other fraudulent transactions. Read more about preventing these kinds of attacks here.

What can Consumers Do to Prevent Identity Theft?

Equifax is offering one year of free credit monitoring. The credit bureau originally stated that utilizing this service would opt a person out of any class-action lawsuits, but they have since retracted that statement. However, it’s important to note that the impact of this breach will last far longer than one year.

The best thing you can do right now is to place a freeze on your credit report with all four credit bureaus. Here is what you need to know about this course of action:

  • Freezing your credit report restricts access to your report by anyone—including you—who is attempting to open a line of credit or take another action that requires a credit pull.
  • In some states, freezing your reports is free, but there is typically a small cost associated with the action. Equifax is allowing customers to freeze their Equifax report for free for the next 30 days.
  • Freezing your reports does not affect your credit score or prevent you from obtaining your free annual credit report that is guaranteed to you by law.
  • If you want to apply for a credit card, mortgage, new job, etc., you’ll have to manually lift the freeze. Costs and lead times vary, so check with the credit reporting agencies in advance.
  • After you request the freeze, each credit reporting company will send you a confirmation letter containing a unique PIN (personal identification number) or password. You will need this information if you choose to lift the freeze.

You can freeze your credit by contacting each reporting agency:

  • Equifax: 1.800.349.9960
  • Experian: 1.888.397.3742
  • TransUnion: 1.888.909.8872
  • Innovis: 1.800.540.2505

What Does PURE’s Homeowners Policy Cover?

  • Liability. If claims and lawsuits are brought against you as a result of cyber-related property damage or personal injury, we will pay the defense costs and damages, up to the liability limit on your policy. Examples include your child being accused of cyber-bullying, or a hacker—using your social profile—posting slanderous comments or exposing personal correspondence that may be damaging to a third party.
  • Identity Theft Restoration. Following an identity-theft incident, we will pay the full cost for an identity-restoration consultant to restore your credit record and personal identity.
  • Financial Loss. In the event of unauthorized use of your credit card or unauthorized electronic transfer from your bank or other asset account, we will pay up to $10,000.

What does PURE Starling Fraud and Cyber Fraud Coverage Cover?

PURE Starling is an optional endorsement to our Homeowners policy designed to provide broadened coverage for losses caused by fraud and cybercrime while providing access to resources to help you recover if you become a victim.

  • Online and Offline Fraud Coverage. Our coverage helps to reimburse you for financial loss due to online and offline fraud. Examples include social engineering of an unauthorized account user, unauthorized transfer or payment and forgery or alteration of checks, to name a few.
  • Cyber Extortion Coverage. If you are the target of cyber extortion—an online attack in which a cybercriminal demands money to stop or avert the attack—our coverage affords access to crisis management advice from an expert to help you best respond to the threat and reimburses you in the event a payment is made.
  • Systems Attack Coverage. Should you become the target of a cyberattack, our policy helps provide coverage for the cost of a professional to reinstall damaged software, remove malicious code, reconfigure your device or system and replace electronic data that has been lost or corrupted.

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