THE EQUIFAX HACK: A REMINDER TO TAKE CYBERSECURITY SERIOUSLY

In the time since the Equifax breach became public knowledge in early September, I’ve had many conversations with TruWest members and employees, colleagues at other financial institutions, friends, family members and others who are concerned about what happened. Given that hackers may have accessed personal information for more than 145 million people, the breach has caused widespread worry. Understandably, people are angry and anxious about how this might affect them—not just now, but well into the future.

There are steps we can all take to safeguard our credit, financial accounts and personal information.

  • First, if you haven’t already, you can go to www.equifaxsecurity2017.com to see if you might have been affected by the Equifax breach. Be sure to use a secure computer, as you’ll need to provide your name and the last six digits of your Social Security number. Equifax is offering a free year of credit monitoring through its own TrustedID service. Before you enroll, be sure to read the disclaimers—initially, it appeared as though Equifax required people who signed up for the service to waive their right to participate in potential class action or personal lawsuits against the company, but apparently it has since reconsidered that requirement. The deadline to enroll is November 21, 2017. Equifax has also established a dedicated phone number for breach-related assistance: 866-447-7559.
  • Next, request your credit reports. You can go to AnnualCreditReport.com and request a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies every year. You can ask for all three reports at the same time, or one report every four months. Review them for any activity or accounts you don’t recognize. If you find something suspicious, IdentityTheft.gov offers advice for what to do.
  • Consider placing a credit freeze or fraud alert on your files with the credit reporting agencies. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone else to open a new account in your name, but it won’t stop an unauthorized person from making charges to your existing accounts. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and lets them know that they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name really is you. Free credit monitoring services are also available that will alert you to new credit activity.
  • Monitor your accounts—checking accounts, savings, credit cards, investment accounts, etc.—at least weekly, and daily if possible, for suspicious activity. Account-aggregation software, such as TruWest’s Money Management tool, can make this a less time-consuming task. If you see any transactions you don’t recognize, notify the relevant financial institution right away.
  • Scammers can use your name and Social Security number to file a fraudulent tax return and obtain a refund. The best way to keep that from happening is to file your taxes early—as soon as you have all of the necessary information.
  • Protect your online accounts, including any sites you use to pay bills or make purchases, by changing your passwords often, using a different one for each site and making them hard to guess. Use combinations of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols for passwords when possible. You can also use a password manager and two-step verification for added security. For sites that ask you to choose security questions you’ll need to answer in order to access your account, don’t choose questions that hackers can easily find answers to, such as your mother’s maiden name or where you were born.

Most of us are at risk of having our personal information exposed, whether we do business online or not. Any time we supply information—even if it’s for something as simple as establishing service with a utility after moving to a new home, or switching to a new Internet provider or cell phone carrier—we trust those businesses to keep our information safe.

At TruWest, we take our responsibility for protecting your personal information seriously. As I’ve said on many occasions, technology is a particular passion of mine, and I’m constantly looking for new ways we can use technology—including the latest in data security—to improve our services.

If you have questions or concerns about the safety of your personal information at TruWest, please don’t hesitate to call us or send us an email. Nothing is more important to us than your trust.

Online and Mobile Banking Maintenance

Online Banking will be unavailable on Tuesday, April 23 from 8:00 AM (AZ/MST) through Tuesday, April 23 at 9:30 AM (AZ/MST), as we perform routine maintenance.