Turbotodd

Ruminations on IT, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for September 8th, 2017

Worried About Equifax Breach? Put a Security Freeze on Your Credit Files!

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After blowing my top when learning about this latest data breach at Equifax, where roughly 44 percent of Americans’ personal information — including Social Security, driver’s license, and credit card numbers were put at risk — well, I decided I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!

Rather than spend a monthly fee paying one of these credit companies a fee to protect the very information they traffic in, I went one better: I put a security freeze on my credit file with each of the four major credit vendors in the U.S.: Experian, Equifax, TransUnion, and Innovis.

So what did this involve?

It was much easier than people might have you think, and for the full details, we have Krebs on Security to thank for the full instructions.

Here’s the bottom line:

A security credit freeze basically blocks any potential creditors from able to view or "pull" your credit file, unless you affirmatively unfreeze or thaw your file first. So, if you need to have a credit line inquiry anytime soon, this option’s not for you.

On the other hand, if you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired worrying about these data breaches, this is the option for you.

Depending on your state, it’s a modest fee to put a security freeze on your credit file for each of the previously mentioned vendors. (In Texas, each freeze costs $10, although for some reason Innovis was free.)

What does this freeze do?

First, ID thieves can still apply for credit in your name, but they won’t succeed in getting new lines of credit because few if any creditors will extend that credit without first being able to gauge your risk worthiness.

Also, the freeze can help protect your credit score, because as you’ve probably heard, every credit inquiry made by a creditor can negatively impact your credit score.

How do you do all this? It’s easier than it looks.

Go to each of the websites (www.experian.com, etc.) and search for "security freeze." You then should be able to find each vendor’s direct link with directions on how to impose the freeze.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of identity theft, you well know that $30-50 is a small price to pay to gain some piece of mind and to frustrate the hackers looking to benefit from your prior naivete.

Take your personal info and credit back into your own hands.

Do it, and do it now!

Written by turbotodd

September 8, 2017 at 4:04 pm

Hurricanes, Earthquakes, and Data Breaches

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First things first. TGIF (Thank God it’s Friday).

Although if I were hanging out in Key West at the moment, I’d probably be thinking about more than just another margarita and earth-bending sunset.

Hurricane Irma has already wracked devastation across the Caribbean, hammering Antigua, Barbuda, Puerto Rico, and now passing through the Turks and Caicos, the northern coast of Cuba, and the southern Bahamas before making landfall in south Florida.

The New York Times’ characterized Irma overnight as an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 storm with sustained winds of up to 155 miles an hour. The National Hurrican Center has the latest probable path here.

Meanwhile, an 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck off the Pacific Coast of Mexico late last night, killing at least 32 and sending people in Mexico City fleeing into the streets.

Effects of the quake were felt through the southern states of Oaxaca and Chiapas, and on into Guetemala. Last night’s quake was said to be more powerful than the one that killed nearly 10,000 in 1985, after which construction codes were bolstered significantly.

The Mexican government issued a tsunami warning off the coast of Oaxaca and Chiapas, but neither appeared to have been impacted by waves.

And then there was the man-made disaster. Credit reporting agency Equifax announced on Thursday that hackers had gained access to company data and potentially compromised sensitive information for 143 million American consumers (~44 percent of the U.S. population!), including Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers, and other personally-identifiable information.

The company’s press release indicated that “criminals exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files.”

As if having a web exploit endanger the personal information of about one-third of the American population weren’t bad enough, Bloomberg is reporting that three of Equifax’s senior executives sold shares worth almost $1.8 million in the days after the company discovered the security breach.

Coincidence?

If you believe that, I’ve got some credit card numbers I’ll be happy to sell you at a rock bottom price!

The hack is so gargantuan that Equifax is offering ALL U.S. consumers free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection for one year through its TrustedID Premier service.

It’s the least they can do.

Read Krebs post to learn more about the breach and its aftermath.

In the meantime, take matters into your own hands. Check all your credit card statements online to ensure no suspicious charges are starting to get racked up, and consider putting a freeze on your credit until you’re confident you’re not a victim of this “incident.”

Written by turbotodd

September 8, 2017 at 9:40 am

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