Good morning everyone,
As you may have seen, cyber criminals have stolen 143 million credit records in the recent hacking scandal at big-three credit bureau Equifax. This dwarfs the multiple Yahoo breaches that recently happened just like our sun does the moon. Social Security Numbers, names, addresses, etc, all free for the taking. At this point you have to assume that the bad guys have highly personal information of yours that they can use to trick you, or to use to setup accounts in your name, etc. You need to watch out for the following things:
- Phishing emails that claim to be from Equifax where you can check if your data was compromised
- Phishing emails that claim there is a problem with a credit card, your credit record, or other personal financial information
- Calls from scammers that claim they are from your bank or credit union
- Fraudulent charges on any credit card because your identity was stolen
Here are 5 things you can do to prevent identity theft:
- First sign up for credit monitoring (there are many companies providing that service including Equifax but we cannot recommend that)
- Next freeze your credit files at the three major credit bureaus Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Remember that generally it is not possible to sign up for credit monitoring services after a freeze is in place. Advice for how to file a freeze is available here on a state-by-state basis: http://consumersunion.org/research/security-freeze/
- Check your credit reports via the free annualcreditreport.com
- Check your bank and credit card statements for any unauthorized activity
- If you believe you may have been the victim of identity theft, here is a site where you can learn more about how to protect yourself: www.idtheftcenter.org. You can also call the center’s toll-free number (888-400-5530) for advice on how to resolve identify-theft issues. All of the center’s services are free.
Remember, you should always call the company you need rather than respond to an email/call, especially right now, that way you know you’re talking to the actual institution and not giving spammers more information to use against you.
A good multi-layer approach is key to keeping your business secure. Educate your employees! When in doubt, delete the email! Make sure your antivirus & antimalware software is up to date and turned on. Make sure you have a good next generation firewall in place that can work to mitigate malicious incoming/outgoing attacks.
And as always, Think Before You Click!