Whether it's the Equifax hack or you accidentally downloaded a virus from a scam email, cyber threats are out there and they are not going away. We know you want to do everything you can to keep your hard-earned money safe. We at TFG are your partners in safety and want you to know...
What We Are Doing To Help You Sleep Better At Night:
- Charles Schwab has the Schwab Security Guarantee, which states that Schwab will cover 100% of any losses in any of your Schwab accounts due to unauthorized activity. Schwab, our custodian, has also confirmed that the recent Equifax incident is not related in any way to Schwab data or their systems.
- TFG has a strict Security Policy which covers everything from passwords for online access, to phone calls, to paper files and shredding. We are also proactive and diligent in learning and applying the latest methods to keep your information safe.
- We know "How to Respond to a Data Breach." And if you read this step-by-step urgent-response guide, you will be ready for the unthinkable too.
- Communicating: Make sure you follow us on Facebook and/or Twitter, and add [email protected] to your address books. We will send out alerts on important announcements, educational webinars, and other resources through these avenues.
- TFG is a Fiduciary: We put our clients’ best interests first at all times, and are here to help you if you ever suspect that you’re a victim of identity theft.
The Equifax Hack: What Steps to Take
- See If You Were Impacted: Over 143 million consumers were exposed, revealing personal information like social security numbers, birth dates, and even credit card info. Click here and provide your last name and last six digits of your SSN to see if you were impacted. (Keep in mind that being "impacted" only means that hackers had access to your information, but it does not necessarily mean that your accounts have been directly hacked. It does mean that you are at risk.)
- Consider Credit Monitoring: Equifax is providing one year of free credit file monitoring through TrustedID. However, Equifax is responsible for the initial breach, so is it trustworthy? As for credit monitoring, TrustedID coverage is pretty basic, is only free for a year, and the enrollment period ends on November 21, 2017. But it’s at least one thin level of security. Read this article for a good breakdown of TrustedID, which may help you decide if you want to enroll. There are other similar services you could purchase that are not connected with Equifax, such as LifeLock and Identity Force. Here is a comparison chart of some of these services, in case you want to consider purchasing one. (TFG is not affiliated with any of these services.)
- Consider Adding A Fraud Alert: A temporary action would be to put a Fraud Alert on your credit reports for free by contacting one of the credit agencies (for example, you can do it online through Experian), which is required to notify the other two bureaus, so you only have to request it once. An initial fraud alert can make it harder for an identity thief to open more accounts in your name. When you have an alert on your report, a business must verify your identity before it issues credit, so it may try to contact you. The initial alert stays on your report for 90 days. You can renew it after 90 days, but renewal is not automatic -- you must request it again. It allows you to order one free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting companies.
- Consider Doing A Credit Freeze: A preemptive move would be to put a Credit Freeze on your credit report with each of the main credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion.) First read about it here to see if it’s right for you. For the freeze to be fully effective, you should also place a freeze on your Experian and TransUnion accounts. Executing a freeze with one credit bureau will NOT automatically update the others, so you must do them individually. Be aware, though, that if you need to apply for credit or loans, you will have extra steps to go through to lift or remove the freezes. (There are differing opinions on freezes, as it could cause a lot of hoop-jumping should you ever need to apply for new credit/loans yourself. However, if you rarely apply for new credit/loans, then a freeze might be useful to you.) Then see item #4 at the bottom of page 2 of “How to Respond to a Data Breach” for details on how to do this. *Read this for the difference between Fraud Alerts and Credit Freezes.*
- At Minimum, Monitor Your Accounts Regularly: Check your monthly statements. Keep an eye on your FICO score for changes, which can often be done through your existing credit card accounts or through a free service like Credit Karma. Get a free credit report every year. Be vigilant.
- Change Passwords Regularly: Make each password unique, long, and strong, and use two-factor authentication when available.
- If You Ever Suspect Fraudulent Activity On Your Accounts:
- Call Schwab immediately at 1-800-515-2157
- Call TFG immediately at (757) 436-1122 or (888) 296-7526 toll free.
Be aware that all these things are optional and giving anyone your personal information for any reason -- even if it's meant to safeguard your personal information! -- can carry a risk of more exposure. However, we are doing our best to keep up with all the information available and rule out the noise, and we will update this page accordingly.
We welcome your questions at any time, and are happy to help you in your quest for security and peace of mind. Together we can succeed at thwarting cyber criminals!
Last Reviewed: 10/04/17
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