Concerned about the Equifax breach? See our FAQ to learn more about the breach and how to protect yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve been hearing about the Equifax breach in the news. What happened?

Equifax, one of the three major credit bureaus, experienced a massive data breach. 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.

Was my information stolen?

If you have a credit report, there’s a good chance it was. Go to a special website set up by Equifax to find out:

Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on “Potential Impact,” enter some personal information and the site will tell you if you’ve been affected. Be sure you’re on a secure network (not public wi-fi) when you submit sensitive data over the internet.

How can I protect myself?

·       Enroll in Equifax’s services.

Equifax is offering one year of free credit monitoring and other services, whether or not your information was exposed.

You can sign up at equifaxsecurity EquifaxSecurity2017.com

 

·       Monitor your credit reports.

In addition, you can order a free copy of your credit report from all three of the credit reporting agencies at annualcreditreport.com. You are entitled to one free report from each of the credit bureaus once per year.

 

·       Monitor your bank accounts.

We also encourage you to monitor your financial accounts regularly for fraudulent transactions. Use online and mobile banking to keep a close eye on your accounts.

 

·       Watch out for scams related to the breach.

Do not trust e-mails that appear to come from Equifax regarding the breach. Attackers are likely to take advantage of the situation and craft sophisticated phishing e-mails.

Should I place a credit freeze on my files?

Before deciding to place a credit freeze on your accounts, consider your personal situation. If you might be applying for credit soon or think you might need quick credit in an emergency, it might be better to simply place a fraud alert on your files with the three major credit bureaus.  A fraud alert puts a red flag on your credit report which requires businesses to take additional steps, such as contacting you by phone before opening a new account.

How do I contact the three major credit bureaus to place a freeze on my files?

Equifax: Call 800-349-9960 or visit its website

Experian: Call 888-397-3742 or visit its website

TransUnion: Call 888-909-8872 or visit its website

Where can I get more information about the Equifax breach?

You can learn more directly from Equifax at EquifaxSecurity2017. You can also learn more by visiting the Federal Trade Commission’s web page on the breach by clicking here . To learn more about how to protect yourself after a breach, visit https://www.identitytheft.gov/Info-Lost-or-Stolen

Equifax Data Breach

One of the largest security breaches ever was reported by Equifax yesterday.  Over 143 million records have been accessed.  This information could allow criminals to create or takeover accounts for many of the impacted individuals.

Equifax has setup a website to offer website (https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com) offering credit monitoring and indentity theft protection. 

THE COMPANY IS ONLY DIRECTLY NOTIFYING THE PEOPLE WHOSE CREDIT CARD INFO OR DISPUTE DOCUMENTS WERE LEAKED, SO REGISTERING ON THE WEBSITE (https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com) OR CALLING ITS HOTLINE (866-447-7559) MAY BE THE ONLY WAY TO KNOW FOR SURE IF YOU WERE IMPACTED.

Money Management Tips For Teens

Here are some tips for high school students and their parents to help in shoring up their money management skills:

  • Set Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Trackable goals. Choose your priorities—whether it’s saving for a computer or building an emergency fund—and make sure they are achievable. Create a plan to follow and measure your progress over time. 
  • Start a savings account if you don’t have one already. It will help fund future purchases, and in the meantime, you’ll be earning interest. 
  • For working-age students, consider part-time employment. You will learn more about personal responsibility and have an opportunity to manage daily and long-term expenses. 
  • Track what you spend to develop good budgetary habits and avoid making impulse purchases. Many personal finance apps are available online to help you track your spending.
  • Learn about credit. Talk with your parents and your local community banker about the complexities of using credit cards. They will discuss the responsibilities associated with these forms of payment to help you establish and maintain good credit when the time comes. 
  • Gain perspective about risk and reward. Understanding how stocks, bonds and mutual funds can affect an investment portfolio shows you how financial decisions can grow or shrink your savings into retirement. Some high school classes and financial literacy-based websites (i.e. https://www.practicalmoneyskills.com/teach/lesson_plans/grades_9_12)  provide simulations of how these investments work in the real world.

How to Protect Your Loved One from Financial Abuse

Financial exploitation is one of the most common forms of abuse committed against older Americans. According to a Metlife study, an estimated $2.9 billion is lost annually to scams explicitly targeting seniors.  Phenix-Girard is urging older Americans and their caregivers to join the fight against financial abuse and take active steps to protect their finances from fraud. 
 
Older Americans currently hold more than two-thirds of all U.S. deposits, making them highly susceptible to scams, exploitation and abuse. It’s critical that seniors and their loved ones recognize the signs of financial abuse before it’s too late and get help immediately if they think they’ve been victimized.
  
To help older Americans and their caregivers protect themselves or their loved ones from financial abuse, Phenix-Girardis offering the following tips:

 

  • Plan ahead to protect your assets and to ensure your wishes are followed. Talk to someone at your financial institution, an attorney, or financial advisor about the best options for you. 
  • Carefully choose a trustworthy person to act as your agent in all estate-planning matters. Select someone who has your best interest at heart. 
  • Never give personal information, including your Social Security, account number or other financial information to anyone over the phone unless you initiated the call and the other party is trusted.
  • Stay alert to common fraud schemes. Never pay a fee or taxes to collect sweepstakes or lottery “winnings.”
  • Never rush into a financial decision.  Ask for details in writing and consult with a financial advisor or attorney before signing any document you don’t understand.
  • Check references and credentials before hiring anyone. Don’t allow workers to have access to information about your finances and make sure to lock up your checkbook, account statements and other sensitive information when others will be in your home.
  • Pay with checks and credit cards instead of cash to keep a paper trail.
  • You have the right not to be threatened or intimidated. If you believe you are a victim of elder financial abuse, contact your local Adult Protective Services, tell someone at your bank or call your local police for help.