Equifax Data Breach & Steps to Protect Yourself


 

September 12, 2017 communication from Matthew Elsenbeck, EVP -Client Services to Ferris Capital Clients;

You may be aware that last week a major security breach was disclosed by Equifax, one of the largest credit- brokers in the US.  I want to first point out that this data breach was in no way a breach of your account data with our two custodians; Charles Schwab or Fidelity Investments.   Regardless, these events are good reminders to look closely at your own data security measures in greater detail to ensure that you are taking preventative measures.Of important note;  both Charles Schwab and Fidelity have guarantees that offer additional protection to you in the event you experience losses due to unauthorized activity.  The links to both specific policies are included below;

ttps://www.schwab.com/public/schwab/nn/legal_compliance/schwabsafe/security_guarantee.html

https://www.fidelity.com/security/customer-protection-guarantee

Additionally, our firm wanted to take this time to remind clients of a few best practices to consider;

  • Change passwords frequently (at least once a quarter)
  • Do not use the same password across all sites / account logins
  • Monitor monthly charges on credit card and bank statements
  • When possible; use credit cards rather than debit cards at retailers or online (charges are easier to dispute). Look for rewards benefits that best suit you and pay off balances every month
  • Frequently delete cookies and password data on your web browsers -do not store a list of passwords on your computer or phone. If you have trouble with remembering passwords, there are services and applications such as “LastPass” that may be able to assist, although Ferris Capital is not recommending you do so.

If you are still concerned after taking some of these preliminary steps, there are more dramatic actions that can be taken such as;

  • Placing a Credit Freeze on your SSN;   This would prevent new credit accounts / loans from being opened but would not prevent existing credit from being charged.   You would need to do so with each major credit agency, and this is time intensive.  Also, in order to take out a mortgage, loan, open credit cards etc. in the future, you would need to lift the freeze.  The three brokers to do so are; Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.
  • Engaging a Monitoring Company such as; LifeLock, Identity Guard, or a similar service.   These kinds of services would alert you of suspicious activity and threats.  It should be noted that there are fees associated. Ferris Capital does not have specific experience with these services, and therefore cannot speak to preferences or recommendations.
  • Manually Checking Credit Reports for suspicious activity.In the event you believe your Identity has been compromised or stolen, please reach out (via phone) to Ferris Capital.  Both of our custodians can add extra security measures on your accounts that would require additional verification for withdrawals.

Please do not hesitate to reach out directly with any additional questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Matthew K. Elsenbeck

Executive Vice President - Client Services