Why you cannot Ignore the Equifax Data Breach

Equifax data breach

The equifax data breach that was recently announced is a nightmare for consumers and it cannot be ignored.

What Happened in the equifax data breach.

Equifax is one of three credit reporting agencies.  Equifax, experian, and transunion produce your credit report or credit score.  They basically control your FICO score, which can impact your credit and your ability to qualify for credit cards, auto loans, and getting a

equifax data breach
Equifax Data Breach

mortgage.   Your access to credit is determined by these three companies and your FICO score determines if you are a worthy borrower.

The breach is unquestionably serious. It exposed crucial pieces of personal data that criminals could use to commit identity theft, from Social Security numbers and birth dates to address histories and legal names.  It has reportedly affected 143M people.

How to check if you’ve been affected in the equifax data breach.   Visit the equifax data breach website. (https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/).

Once you are there, look for the tab that says, “Potential Impact”

It will lead to a page that will ask for part of your social security number as well as your name.  It will then tell you if you have been affected by the data breach.

Credit Monitoring:

Equifax suggests you sign up for credit file monitoring and identity theft protection. It is providing free service for one year through TrustedID Premier — whether or not you’ve been affected by the breach.  If you sign up for this “free” service, you could be giving up your rights on a future settlement with the company.  I do not think this is a smart decision at all.

 

Options:

Equifax data breach
The equifax data breach is serious.

According to Equifax, my credit was affected by this breach.  If yours was impacted, you should be checking your credit more frequently to make sure that no fraud has taken place.  It is pretty easy to get a free credit report online or from a reputable credit card company.  I will probably be checking my credit score every few months from now on.   Identity theft is no joke and having a stolen identity will impact one’s credit score for many years.

Freeze Credit Report:

One inexpensive option is to freeze your credit report.  You can protect yourself by immediately placing fraud alerts on your credit reports, according to credit experts. This means that a lender must contact you to verify your identity before it issues a credit card in your name. You can place an alert on your report for free by contacting one of the credit agencies, which is required to notify the other two. The credit freeze lasts for 90 days and can be renewed.



According to financial expert, Dave Ramsey, about 80% of credit card companies like Mastercard and Visa will not pull your credit report before issuing a new credit card.   So, there is still risk of having identity theft even if you get a credit freeze.  This is why it’s important to keep checking your credit score even if you aren’t involved in this data breach.

Identity Theft Protection

Dave Ramsey recommends paying for identity theft protection through Zander Insurance.  I  am seriously considering buying this identity theft protection.  They offer a specific case worker for id theft.  The cost is $75.  Id theft protection is not cheap.  Luckily, I no longer have a car payment.    (I have no affiliate relationship with Zander Insurance.)  The other credit reporting companies (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) also offer identity theft protection coverage.



The Federal Trade Commission’s website, www.ftc.gov/idtheft,  offers information about how to protect yourself against fraud.

I believe this is a big wakeup call for all consumers about the increasing possibility of id theft.  There are inexpensive options like a credit freeze.  Or, more expensive options like buying identity theft protection.  Either way it is our responsibility to keep checking our own credit reports to make sure that no one has committed id theft using our social security numbers to get new credit cards, etc…  This is the unfortunate reality of the situation.

 

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My Last Car Loan Payment- Slaying the Dragon

Exciting news:  no more car payments!  That’s right my car loan has been paid off.



It’s time to slay the dragon: my last car payment is here!

I am excited to send in the double payment this month which will be MY LAST CAR Payment.  Auto loans are the worst financial crime.  That’s right- Next month  I will have no car payment.  No bill.  Nada.  Debt free. That sounds good.  I feel so much lighter.

Once I cut out some of the fluff from my budget, the math just began to work in my favor.  I began to feel like I was running downhill in paying down debt, instead of fighting gravity.

I feel good and now its time to focus on investing.  Now, comes the part where I bank more of my income.  Save much more, keep investing, and cut up some credit cards.

Debit Cards vs Credit Cards:

I now have two debit cards and I like using them.  There is a psychological game we play when using credit cards.   It’s like we get to delay the bill for a month.  It doesn’t feel like we’re spending money.  Yes, they have done psychological studies on this.  I am going to see if I spend less with my debit cards over the next few months.  When I use them, I know the money will be gone immediately.  So, I think I should spend less.

Wants vs. Needs:

I’m still battling the wants vs needs issue.  I bought some dumb stuff last year.   I’m really used to buying whatever I want, whenever I want.  Example- I started getting into fitness again.  So, I am preparing healthy meals.  So, I’ve been buying cooking equipment that I want.  I rationalize that I need these items like measuring spoons, flour, bowls, pans, a rice cooker, etc… But, sometimes I buy things I need and they sit on the counter!  Yes, I still have not used the rice cooker.  UGH.

I’m thinking of rewarding myself with a very inexpensive drone (less than $40) to celebrate my last car payment.  What do you think?

Feel free to share your thoughts and comments on your debt free journey.

debt reitre invest
Financial Freedom

 

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