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Taking Control of Your Financial Security after the Equifax Breach
 
As you’ve likely already heard, Equifax – one of the “big three” credit bureaus – recently announced a data breach affecting approximately 143 million consumers. The breach exposed information that may include names, Social Security numbers, date of birth, addresses and some driver license numbers. Oh, and upwards of 200,000 credit card numbers. Certainly, this incident has caused confusion and alarm amongst consumers and has left many feeling vulnerable.
 
As your trusted financial institution, Christian Financial Credit Union is here to help you take control of your financial security. (To be crystal clear, there has been NO breach or compromise at Christian Financial – the breach occurred at Equifax.)
 
Read on and assess the following options available to consumers to regain peace of mind. Stay Smart to Stay Secure!
 
  • See if you’ve been impacted. If you haven’t already, visit the dedicated Equifax breach website to see if you are one of the many impacted consumers. Even if you’re not, it’s prudent to consider some or all of the steps below.
 
  • Know your options for protecting yourself.
 
  1. You may choose to utilize a credit monitoring service and/or ID theft insurance, which can alert you if your identity is stolen and used fraudulently and assist in recovery. Equifax is offering credit monitoring services to consumers, and other companies offer these service as well.
 
  1. For a more proactive approach to protecting your credit, consider placing a security freeze (a.k.a. credit freeze) on your credit files with each of the “big three” bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion), as well as a fourth major bureau, Innovis. This freeze will help prevent someone from opening credit in your name. (Note that you will need to un-freeze or “thaw” them with your PIN before you legitimately apply for credit.) Visit the bureaus’ websites or call them individually to set up security freezes. If you have a police report indicating you have been the victim of identity theft, you can place security freezes for free. Otherwise, in Michigan, there is a small fee to initiate a freeze with each bureau – well worth the additional peace of mind. For more information on security freezes, see this State of Michigan website. For your convenience, the contact information for each of the four bureaus is provided at the end of this article.
 
 
  1. If you have already experienced identity theft (for example, if you find that credit was opened with your personal information by someone other than you), you have the option of placing a Fraud Alert on your credit files. Contact the bureaus for instructions.
 
  1. An active duty alert is also available through the bureaus if you are on active military duty.
 
  • Continuous monitoring is key!
 
  1. By law, you have the right to a FREE copy of your credit report each year from each of the three major consumer reporting agencies. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com to access. Request each of these reports annually (space them out throughout the year to get in three separate annual reviews!) to help quickly detect any problems. Contact the bureaus and creditors immediately if you find credit inquiries, applications, etc. that you don’t recognize.
 
  1. It’s extremely important to monitor all of your accounts regularly for suspicious or fraudulent activity – in the wake of a major breach like this one, and throughout the year. We’re here for you! If you notice any unauthorized activity on your CFCU accounts, notify us immediately by visiting our friendly and knowledgeable branch personnel, or calling our Member Solution Center at 586-772-6330.
 
 
Credit Bureau Contact Information
 
BUREAU WEBSITE PHONE
Equifax https://help.equifax.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/75/search/1 866-447-7559
Experian https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html 888-397-3742
Innovis https://www.innovis.com/personal/securityFreeze 800-540-2505
Trans Union https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze/place-credit-freeze 888-909-8872
 
 
 
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