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Equifax Breach Information – How Can I Keep My Identity Safe?

Dear Clients and Friends,

With the recent Equifax data breach, we want to provide you with some information that will help you and your family protect your identity, data, and assets.

We would first like to address how cyber-criminals use stolen data.

When it is personal data such as social security numbers, dates of birth, usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, account numbers, etc., it often results in fraudulent transactions such as opening accounts, electronic funds transfers and wire transfers. In some cases, identity thieves will use your data for employment background checks and filing false tax returns.

There are several ways you can be diligent in your efforts to protect your data:

Protect your money!

  • Where available, request a security token for two-factor authentication when accessing your financial accounts.
  • Review credit card, cell phone and financial statements as soon as they are available and watch for anything suspicious. Contact your service providers for more information.
  • Consider setting up fraud alerts or credit freezes.
    • Fraud Alerts are employed when a business must verify a consumer’s identify before extending new credit. Usually it involves calling to check if the person is at a particular store attempting to get credit. These alerts expire after 90 days and are FREE.
    • Credit Freezes prevent anyone, including the consumer, to access a credit report to open a new account. If a credit freeze is in place, you will get a PIN number to use each time you want to freeze, unfreeze, and refreeze your account. The credit freeze lasts until consumers temporarily or permanently remove it, and the cost is between $5-$10 every time you initiate and then lift the freeze.
    • If you utilize a fraud alert or credit freeze, you can notify one of the (3) credit bureaus and they will notify the other two.
    • The number for TransUnion is (888) 909-8872 and Experian is (888) 397-3742. Should you decide to contact Equifax, their number is (800) 685-1111 – you are not likely to be charged by them for a credit freeze.
  • Consider subscribing for identity theft protection through IDShield or Lifelock. There are varying levels of protection offered by each of these service providers.

Be Strategic with Usernames and Passwords!

  • Create passwords that are long and strong, using 8-12 characters, upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Use a unique password for each account – this prevents a quick and invasive attack on all of your accounts (known as a credential replay).
  • Change your passwords often – every 90 days.

Keep your equipment up to date!

  • Install the most up-to-date antivirus and anti-spyware software on all devices that connect to the internet.
  • Set each device to run regular scans to update software.

On a final note, we would like to provide you with a few tips on what NOT to do:

  • NEVER respond to requests for personal information from an unsolicited email or phone call.
  • NEVER use part of your social security number, birthdate, or other personal data when creating passwords.
  • NEVER provide access credentials (usernames and passwords) to anyone you do not trust.

Your team at Wambolt & Associates remains diligent in our efforts to protect your financial data with training, client education, and most importantly with our authentication policies. Clients are always asked to call the office with money requests. We are firm on our policy of accepting NO REQUESTS for fund transfers via email or voicemail messages. We have well-established relationships with our clients and that is why a phone call is the best validation for these types of requests.

We have SEC required cybersecurity policies and procedures in place that coincide with the policies set by our respective custodians and vendors.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Thank you,
Greg Wambolt

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