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As you may have heard, the credit rating agency Equifax has recently offered a settlement to all individuals affected by their much-publicized data breach.
Please find below a complete analysis of how this affects each of you along with some steps to take in helping to prevent identity theft.
What was this breach and what exactly happened?
In July of 2017, Equifax found out the personal information of 147 million people was compromised by hackers. This information included names, birthdays, social security numbers, credit cards numbers, driver’s license, and passport information.
This security hole was discovered by Equifax in March of 2017, but they did not properly patch this hole to prevent the compromising of consumer information. Equifax did not disclose this breach for over a month and a half. In fact, their Chief Intelligence Officer sold all of his stock in the company upon learning of this breach and is currently under SEC investigation for insider trading.
Was my information compromised?
To find out if you were affected, you will need to visit the website:
From there, you will enter your last name and last 6 digits of your social security number to see if you were affected. If you were, you could be eligible for the choice of free credit monitoring over 4 years, up to a $125 cash payment, or identify restoration services.
What does it mean to have my personal information compromised?
When your information is stolen, hackers could use this information to open new accounts in your name, file false tax returns, or make real estate purchases. Once discovered, it could take many hours to prove you didn’t initiate these transactions and fix your credit.
What exactly is Equifax offering?
The choice of:
The cash payment option of $125 is not exactly what it appears. There is a bucket of only $31 million dollars to pay for those who opt for the cash payment. If more than 0.2% of the 147 million affected choses the cash payment, that $125 will be reduced proportionately.
If your identity was compromised after the breach in 2017, and you have spent time and money having to restore your identity and credit, you can file a claim of up to $20,000. You will need proof and detailed records of the money and time spent.
Based on my research, if you haven’t been the victim of identity theft since the breach, the credit monitoring and $1 million of identity theft insurance looks to be the best deal.
Here are some steps you can take to help be proactive in protecting your identity:
I think the most important thing with protecting your identity is being proactive and assuming some of your personal information could be out there. Cyber criminals are only getting more sophisticated, and these data breaches are most likely to continue.
I hope this information was helpful, if you have any questions at all or would like help implementing any of the above suggestions, please don’t hesitate to contact the office as I would be glad to help in any way that I can.
Kane Financial is an Investment Adviser registered with the state of New York. All views, expressions, and opinions included in this communication are subject to change. This communication is not intended as an offer or solicitation to buy, hold or sell any financial instrument or investment advisory services. Please contact us at (315) 801-9028 if there is any change in your financial situation, needs, goals or objectives, or if you wish to initiate any restrictions on the management of the account or modify existing restrictions. Our current disclosure brochure, Form ADV Part 2, is available for your review upon request, and on our website.