The Equifax Breach: Your Comprehensive Guide.

UPDATE: In light of the Equifax breach and the fraud attempts on our members’ Credit Cards, ACH payments over $500 will have a 6 day hold placed before the funds will be made available to the member. Unfortunately there is not a way to narrow the ACH to just Telephone Payments, so it does apply to all ACH payments (web, recurring, etc). There also is not a way to exclude our routing number, so it will also apply to payments drawn on Wauna Credit Union Accounts.

There’s been a lot of news about the Equifax breach recently. We put together a guide to help our members understand what happened, and what the steps are to protect your information.

Who is Equifax?

Equifax is a consumer reporting agency and one of the three largest credit bureaus in the nation that retain the aggregate credit information of some 800 million American and Canadian citizens, including more than 88 million businesses internationally.

Why would they have my sensitive information?

Credit card companies, banks, credit unions, retailers, auto lenders, and mortgage lenders all report this information and the details of your credit activity to the major credit reporting agencies. Every time you open an account, which extends you credit, that company or entity reports the status of your account/s to these bureaus.

What happened?

In May of 2017, hackers trolling the internet for computer systems containing an exposed security flaw, discovered an Equifax server using outdated Apache software vulnerable to such an attack.

What was stolen and how many were compromised?

Social Security numbers, birth-dates, addresses, names, and in some cases, driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers, and other documents, are among the data stolen in a breach that has affected more than 143 million US-based users.

Have I been breached?

Many of our members are wondering if they are affected, and if so what to do. The FTC has provided some guidance, but we have included some main steps below. If you do find that you were included, don’t worry, but protect yourself and take advantage of the Equifax services for those whose information was made available.

What do I do?

Guarding your personal information is a huge priority for Wauna Credit Union, and by using advanced fraud-monitoring technology and services, our committed staff is persistently watching your accounts for suspicious activity. In the wake of the Equifax breach, thieves may be even more prevalent in their attempts to steal your information. They might try one or many of the following in order to access your accounts:

  • Fraudsters may use spoofed phone numbers to contact the Credit Union (caller IDs may show member’s actual phone number).
  • Suspicious callers are stating they are members, having all the accurate information needed, including name, DOB, DL #s, addresses, transaction history on cards, and traditional info we might ask a person over the phone to ID them.
  • Attempts are being made to place travel notifications so fraudsters can use the cards outside of our members’ normal usage areas.

We understand how overwhelming the thought of identity theft might be, but there are ways to protect yourself against fraud, including steps you can take right now.

1. The best and first place to start is finding out if your data has been exposed. You can do this by entering your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number at Equifax’s website. The site will tell you if you’ve been affected by the data breach*.
*As of 09/29/2017 this service has been listed as “temporarily unavailable”. Continue to check regularly as Equifax catches up to mass inquiries.

2. Whether or not you’ve been compromised, U.S. Equifax consumers are eligible for year of free credit monitoring and other services**. The site has provided a date when you can come back to enroll.
**Equifax has confirmed people who enroll in the credit monitoring program as a result of the breach would not waive their right to class action.

3. Use strong passwords and always be aware of the information you provide when opening an account, conducting a transaction, or anywhere you might be transferring secure information.

4. Review your free credit reports. You are entitled to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three major consumer reporting companies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Get started here.

5. Take the time to monitor your accounts for unusual activity! Accounts on your credit reports that you didn’t open, inaccurate information, or credit inquiries from entities you’ve never contacted are all potential red flags that require immediate attention. If you find evidence of fraud, let us, the appropriate financial institution, and/or the credit reporting bureau know immediately.

6. Open a my Social Security account, which will prevent the bad guys from creating an account in your name, even if they’ve made off with your Social Security number.

7. Consider placing a credit freeze. Placing a credit freeze makes it more difficult for a thief to open a new account in your name. FYI, however, a credit freeze will not prevent a thief from making changes to your existing accounts.

8. Set a fraud alert, which requires creditors to verify your identity before issuing a credit card, opening a new account, or increasing a credit limit on an existing account. A fraud alert will not stop a lender from opening credit in your name, but it does require lenders to take additional steps to verify your identity beforehand. Better to be safe than sorry.

9. If you discover your identity has been compromised, you should file an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at identitytheft.gov or by phone at 1-877-438-4338.

10. Due to the increased amount of information available, some people are theorizing that we will see an increase in tax return fraud, so if possible do your taxes as early as possible this year.

Our staff is well-trained in sniffing out potential thieves, but we also need you to be vigilant in watching any accounts you may have outside of the Credit Union. Further, don’t click on suspicious links, don’t open attachments, and don’t respond to emails, text messages, or phone calls that are soliciting your information — no matter who the caller or sender is claiming to be.

In the meantime, rest assured that Wauna Credit Union is working around the clock to safeguard your finances, and we are here to answer any questions or concerns you might have.

For a list of FAQs regarding the breach, please visit https://goo.gl/tGWzP2, and as always, we are here if you have questions or concerns you wish to discuss.