As our country was getting hit with two hurricanes back to back last week, the country was also hit with a cyber storm – the Equifax security breach.
I have been documenting the identity theft protection process and preparing my notes to send to you. Lo and behold a client who is a data scientist at Google sent me a link to a document entitled Identity Theft Action Items from his friend, a Google security systems engineer. I have created a PDF of the action items and turned it into an article. To learn more about the following see the articles at the end of this email:
- Identity Theft Action Items
- Fraud alert, credit freeze or credit lock?
- Should you lock your Social Security Number?
The instructions are spot on and very thorough. I have added some more detail to some of the steps that you will find below.
My advice is to print this document and work on steps 1-3 as soon as humanly possible. Then continue on through the other steps until you have worked through all of them. This is another job in your already overflowing list of obligations but it is really important and essential to make this a priority. It will be frustrating but I hope these notes and my personal experience will minimize many of the frustrating aspects of this work for you.
More information for step 2:
Have a government issued id and a utility bill with your name and address on it on your desktop for uploading or mailing to the credit bureaus.
More information for step 3 & 5:
Equifax identity theft report submission instructions from their website –
The easiest and fastest way to place a security freeze on your Equifax credit file is via our online process found at the following link.
If you choose, you may also request a security freeze by calling our automated line at 1-800-685-1111 (NY residents please call 1-800-349-9960) or submitted your request in writing to:
Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, Georgia 30348
Please be sure to include the following:
– Your complete name including any suffix (e.g. JR., Sr., etc)
– Complete address
– Social Security Number
– Date of Birth
– Payment (if applicable, please check What are the security freeze fees in my state? ). The fee is $5.00 in Massachusetts. We accept checks, money orders, or a major credit card for the appropriate fees. For VISA, MasterCard, Discover or American Express payment, please include your name as it appears on the card, the card number and the expiration date.
For your protection, please also send some proof of identification. See “Acceptable Forms of Identification for Verification“.
TransUnion mailing address for requesting a credit freeze –
PO Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
Include in your request to freeze your credit report your name, address, social security number and if you don’t have a police report number, they will need your credit card information: number and expiration date. The freeze will be applied within 5 business days. They will send you a confirmation letter with your pin for unfreezing your account. Save this pin number.
If you have proof that your identity information has been stolen such as a letter from the IRS or another institution, please include that. This way your freeze request may be free.
Experian adding a security freeze –
After filling this out multiple times, and the site not accepting my request, a link appears on the last page that will allow you to upload your request. I recommend simply going through the online freeze request once so you can get to the upload link and then simply upload your request. https://www.experian.com/ncaconline/freeze
I hope this saves you lots of time and more importantly makes your identity more secure. These credit reporting organizations are unregulated and they put as all at risk of identity theft. The financial institutions have a quandary on their hands because with the heightened freeze activity, lending is suppressed (and lending earnings) and without it their risk of having to write off the theft is expensive. As my old boss used to say, “We will let their Moms’ worry.” The banks have the resources and more importantly the will to figure this out. My goal is to make sure you are protected. Here are two other links I hope you will never need:
What is very frustrating and I don’t have an answer for, is that it is hard to confirm that your account has a fraud alert, freeze or lock on it. If anyone knows how to confirm the level of protection. Please share. Thank you.
Onward and upward.