The Equifax Data Breach: What to Do

9/13/17 Update from our offices:

Kestra Financial is closely reviewing the details of the recent Equifax data breach, which disclosed the full names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, and home addresses of more than 143 million Americans.

Kestra Financial doesn’t use the services provided by Equifax. Therefore, this breach doesn’t directly impact our systems or the services we provide to you. However, as consumers in the U.S. economy, many of us could be among the 143 million people whose personal information was exposed in the data breach.

Your Accounts With Us

At Westfield Financial Planning, your accounts are set up so the only way money can leave your account is by your directing us to send you funds, via a check in the mail to your home address, or electronically to your checking account (but only to your account).

The biggest concern for your accounts here is the thieves will use your information to impersonate you. Bank accounts typically are much more vulnerable. Bank accounts are designed to send money elsewhere.

What We’re Doing to Protect You

In addition to the focus and investment that we always apply to cybersecurity, we’re tightening our procedures so that when we’re verifying your identity over the phone, we won’t strictly rely on information that may have been included in the Equifax breach.

What You Can Do to Protect Yourself

Below is an article that appeared the day following the breach, on the Federal Trade Commission site.  

If you have a credit report, there’s a good chance that you’re one of the 143 million American consumers whose sensitive personal information was exposed in a data breach at Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit reporting agencies.

Here are the facts, according to Equifax. The breach lasted from mid-May through July. The hackers accessed people’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. They also stole credit card numbers for about 209,000 people and dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 people. And they grabbed personal information of people in the UK and Canada too.

There are steps to take to help protect your information from being misused. Visit Equifax’s website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.

  • Find out if your information was exposed. Click on the “Potential Impact” tab and enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number. Your Social Security number is sensitive information, so make sure you’re on a secure computer and an encrypted network connection any time you enter it. The site will tell you if you’ve been affected by this breach.
  • Whether or not your information was exposed, U.S. consumers can get a year of free credit monitoring* and other services. The site will give you a date when you can come back to enroll. Write down the date and come back to the site and click “Enroll” on that date. You have until November 21, 2017 to enroll.
  • You also can access frequently asked questions at the site.

Here are some other steps to take to help protect yourself after a data breach:

  • Check your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — for free — by visiting annualcreditreport.com. Accounts or activity that you don’t recognize could indicate identity theft. Visit IdentityTheft.gov to find out what to do.
  • Consider placing a credit freeze on your files. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. Keep in mind that a credit freeze won’t prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts.
  • Monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts closely for charges you don’t recognize.
  • If you decide against a credit freeze, consider placing a fraud alert on your files. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and that they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name really is you.
  • File your taxes early — as soon as you have the tax information you need, before a scammer can. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. Respond right away to letters from the IRS.
  • Additionally, you may sign up for additional fraud protection.  These services include Lifelock, EZ Shield and Identity Guard. The most basic version of Lifelock costs $9.99 per month and provides benefits including address change verification, help cancelling or replacing lost credit cards, driver’s licenses, Social Security cards and insurance cards, plus a “restoration team” that helps correct any identity theft issues and black market website surveillance.   Data breaches may also lead to phishing scams: Companies should never ask for a full social security number or driver’s license, they should confirm your card number, zip code and one or two security questions. When a consumer is a victim of identity theft or fraud, the last thing companies should do is pressure customers to give you more information.  1

Visit Identitytheft.gov/databreach to learn more about protecting yourself after a data breach.

note: * Equifax will begin charging customers after a year of using the service “unless they cancel by calling the company.”

Main article: Gressin, Seena, “The Equifax Breech: What to Do.” Federal Trade Commission, 08 Sept, 2017, Web. 09 Sept. 2017.  <https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2017/09/equifax-data-breach-what-do>

  1. LaManga, Maria, “What to do now if you are among the 143 million Americans affected by the Equifax data breach.” Market Watch,  09 Sept. 2017, Web. 09 Sept. 2017. < http://www.marketwatch.com/story/are-you-one-of-the-143-million-customers-in-the-equifax-data-breach-do-this-now-2017-09-08>

Kestra Financial, Inc. (“Kestra Financial, “Kestra””) is the parent company of Kestra Investment Services, LLC member FINRA/SIPC and of Kestra Private Wealth Services, LLC, Kestra Advisory Services, LLC, and Kestra Institutional Services, LLC.