HIGH ALERT! Millions of Americans and other world citizens are under attack!!!
As reported recently, albeit reluctantly, by Big Three credit reporting agency Equifax, they became aware of a cybersecurity “incident” (don’t you just love these responsibility-evading terms?) on July 29, 2017, and began “blocking suspicious network traffic.”
However, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Consumer Information web page (visit the page here) claims that Equifax knew “the breach lasted from mid-May to July” and paints a much more somber picture. Note there is no conditional tense here at all, no “woulda, coulda, shoulda.” Equifax knows this data – our data – MY DATA – has been stolen:
Unauthorized activity on the network” [translated: “Hacking”] impacts personal information relating to 143 million U.S. consumers – primarily names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers.
But wait, there’s more – all emphasis added:
In addition, credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 U.S. consumers, and certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers, were accessed.
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.
Are you furious yet?
The folks in charge of setting your interest rates for the largest purchases you’ll make in your life – house, cars, credit cards – have let thieves sneak in some cyber-side-door of their oligarchic cyber-domain.
This entire system of credit reporting was their idea and certainly not mine. Yet, I was forced to act after hearing about the Equifax Cyber-Hack of 2017 only a couple of weeks ago. My primary source is this Reddit YouShouldKnow online article by Velostodon. It wasn’t long after reading this that I put my counter-operation into action, as outlined here:
If you poo-poo the notion that anyone would want to create new charge accounts, set up auto loans, perhaps even buy bitcoins in your name, consider the consequences of being notified by your existing credit card company – or companies – that someone else, posing as you, with all your vital personal and financial information, set up a new card account and charged up the limit. Then multiple that by ten, twenty or more separate incidences as these thieves continue their spending spree until you put a stop to it or hear about it from your credit card company’s fraud protection department first – if you’re lucky.
The first question that popped into my head, after digesting the fact that I, along with millions of other Fellow Americans, was at high risk of identity theft and four years of ensuing court battles to prove “the real me” didn’t set up those fraudulent accounts, was:
“AM I IMPACTED?”
If you are wondering the same thing, wonder no more. Simply visit this site:
When I just did, I saw this screen:
It’s like they’re reading my mind! “Be still, my heart,” as I clicked the right-hand link and beheld…
Per the Reddit article cited above, two days later I coordinated setting up credit freezes online with each of Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. This was no easy task because I had to make sure all three websites were up and running at the same time. Equifax was not only dealing with the data hack, but also a subsequent website attack. Wow, who did they p*ss off?
Fees for adding and removing credit report freezes are set by the States. Victims of identity theft are exempt from freeze/unfreeze fees. I paid my state’s $10 fee to Experian and TransUnion. At least, Equifax had the common sense and decency to waive their credit freeze activation fee – but only after their website continued to collect the fee after their first public announcement.
Two days later, I filed online a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Identity Theft Report to document my freeze fee refund requests, either online or by mail. You can get your own free FTC Identity Theft Report here
You might also want to file a State, county or municipal identity theft report.
The next time I need a consumer credit check – say, by a lender, my proven status as a victim of identity theft should exempt me from paying the usual $10 unfreezing fee.
If you need creditors to have ready access to your credit records, a security freeze may not be suitable. The Big 3 Credit Reporting companies offer “credit monitoring” services, some free and some for a monthly fee.
It is ironic to have to pay protection fees to the Trusted Keepers of Our Credit. Perhaps this “incident” – which I predict will produce an outright epidemic of identity theft by year’s end (2017) – will impel a re-examination of our credit reporting system.
What might a world without Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion look like?