Republic Bank is committed to informing our customers of news that may impact their finances and providing tips to help them safeguard their information.
As you may be aware Equifax, one of the three largest credit reporting companies in the nation, announced a major data breach late this past Thursday evening. This breach affected 143 million Americans as the compromised information obtained during the breach included Social Security Numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some cases, driver license and credit card numbers.
Please keep the following in mind
- Be aware of scams and fraudulent emails that contain links that look like they are directing you the Equifax site. These links may actually navigate users to a site that aims to scam users.
- Equifax is promoting their own credit monitoring service, TrustedID, free for one year but may require payment after that. You must waive your right to class-action or personal lawsuits against Equifax to use this service.
- Other options to help protect your information are credit freezes, fraud alerts, and reviewing your credit report. See the below information on how to complete credit freezes and fraud alerts and well as how to review your credit report.
What is a credit freeze and how it helps.
By placing a credit freeze on your credit report, you restrict access making it difficult for anyone to open a new account in your name. Not all states offer free credit freezes, so check the rules in your state before requesting one. To place a credit freeze on your credit report, visit one of the three credit report bureaus.
What is a fraud alert?
If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, you can place a 90-day initial fraud alert on your credit file. At the end of the 90 days, you can decide whether or not you want to renew it. Maybe you lost your wallet which had your license and insurance cards in it and you notice an unauthorized transaction. You can put a fraud alert on your credit file to notify lenders and others to verify your identity before extending any type of credit to you (or someone posing as you).
How can you set up a fraud alert on your credit file?
All you need to do is contact at least one of the three credit reporting agencies in the United States. All three agencies offer fraud alerts for free. . The credit agencies share alerts, so you need to contact only one. Each agency has a number you can call or you can visit its website to place the fraud alert.
What if I want to extend the alert?
You can place a fraud alert on your credit file for a period of seven years if you can confirm you’ve been a victim of identity theft. In order to place this alert, you’ll need to submit all the information required to place an initial alert, plus a copy of the police report or similar that documents your identity theft case. Placing an extended fraud alert on your file will disqualify you from receiving any pre-approved credit offers for five years and every creditor must contact you by phone prior to approving any credit in your name.
How can I review my credit report?
All you need to do is visit www.annualcreditreport.com. You can order a free report from each of the three credit reporting agencies once a year.
Information is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or financial advice. The views expressed are those of Republic Bank of Chicago.