You have likely been made aware of the unfortunate news hackers have accessed the personal data of over 100 million people through Equifax, one of the world’s largest credit reporting agencies. We recommend you consider taking the following precautions to protect your security and identity:
- Place a credit freeze. A credit freeze will halt any application for a new line of credit and remain in effect until you request that it be lifted. Keep in mind a credit freeze won’t prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts. Since the Equifax breached occurred through its website, we recommend placing these credit freezes over the phone rather than submitting your name and social security number into Equifax’s (or any other) site.
- Place a fraud alert. A fraud alert is a statement in your credit file that notifies anyone requesting a copy of your credit report that you may be a victim of ID theft. There are three different types of fraud alerts: an initial alert, an extended alert and an active duty alert. You can place a fraud alert with all three major credit reporting agencies by calling the same numbers above.
- Check your credit report for inaccuracies. You can request your credit report for free from each of three reporting bureaus every year by visiting annualcreditreport.com or by calling 877-322-8228.
- Do NOT visit Equifax’s website to find out if your information was exposed or to enroll in Equifax’s credit monitoring service. Enrolling in the Equifax checker program bars participation in any class-action lawsuits that may arise from the incident. According to the New York Times, credit monitoring is for one year and only for Equifax, leaving you exposed at the other credit agencies. Equifax may also charge you a subscription fee after the one-year period is complete.
There are additional steps you can take to protect your identity, as we outlined in this blog post last year. Oregon residents might also refer to these recommendations from the Oregon Department of Justice. Other states may offer additional steps non-Oregon residents should consider.
Please know we monitor your Schwab accounts daily for any unauthorized or unusual activity. As an added layer of security, Charles Schwab does not provide account information or allow any funds to be sent to third parties without your signature and verbal confirmation.
Identity theft protection services cannot prevent your identity from being stolen. Ultimately, no one can deliver a foolproof service. By focusing on what you can control, it is less likely you’ll become a risk of identity theft.
If you should have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out directly to your Vista service team.