Posted By Raj Singh on 12/15/2017 in Internet

Life After Equifax Breach... What's next?

Life After Equifax Breach... What's next?

Actionable Musts to Secure your Financial Identity

Although The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has announced that only 8000 Canadians have been affected by the recent Equifax breach, it’s best to consider that your financial identity is currently shaky.

There’s more than double the chance that you are among the 143 million Americans affected by the recent Equifax data breach that saw private credit files hacked into and stolen by unknown malicious individuals. Even after a whole month after the news broke, a lot of people are still in the dark about what the breach means for their financial identity.

If your data was taken from the breach, here’s what could happen today, tomorrow or years from now.

  • Your data may be sold to a third party and used for dangerous, illegal activities.
  • Your identity could be stolen, and used by impersonators to commit crime.
  • Your financial details could be used to access your location or make unlawful transactions (such as getting new credit cards) in real time without your knowledge.

There’s more where that comes from, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Now more than ever, your private financial details are at risk of exposure. Fraud alerts used to be enough a few years ago, but not anymore. 

As more and more people discover how dangerous the breach could get, experts are now teaching smarter methods that individuals can use to protect their data better. 

Just so you know, Equifax has announced that they will not be calling affected consumers about the breach. They have said the notifications will be in writing by postal mail. Hang up if someone calls claiming to be from Equifax as scammers may try to take advantage of the breach

If you have been compromised, take these steps you should consider immediately.

Start by freezing your credit

If you know you have been compromised, file an identity theft affidavit immediately. In light of the breach, Equifax is offering a free credit freeze option (recently extended to January 2018) for its account holders. TransUnion and Experian already have credit freeze options too. While it might prove tiresome in the future when you have to unfreeze your credit, it’s currently the best way to stay safe. Start by contacting each of the three credit unions and request to freeze your credit.

File a police report.

File a report at your local police station and keep your copy of the report safe. This sheet of paper will come in handy several times over.

Contact Canada Post

Postal Inspection Service will help you look into mail theft after you fill up a couple of forms. Contact your nearest post office to find out what forms to fill.

Precautions towards staying safe in the future:

Now looking into what needs to be done, if you know you are safe. Doesn't hurt to stay safe for the rest of our lives, does it?

Create new secure passwords, plus two-step verification

One of the major take-aways from the Equifax breach was that big corporations are not always the safest places on earth for personal data storage. That is why you need a stronger password, and two step verification for your accounts immediately.

Go for complex identity verification questions at access to keep out unauthorised users

Forget ‘What is your mother’s middle name?’ and ‘Where did you grow up?’. They were once the go to questions for locking out unauthorized users, but their common use has made them more open to manipulation. Choose stronger questions with answers that hackers can’t access by prowling around your social media.

Monitor your credit reports and statements regularly

Sometimes, fraud alerts miss random transactions that could cost you hundreds of dollars. Sign up for credit monitoring services and ask for regular statements from the three major unions to get easy access to your statements. Scrutinize each transaction to ensure its correlates with what you expect, and mak an immediate report if something doesn’t add up.

Set up credit activity alerts

These keep you up to date with any transactions that occur on your account, and in real time. This step is especially important now that some random people may have your data and try to use it for unlawful transactions.

Watch out when you throw away old electronics

Buying a new smart phone and done with your old one? Make sure all data from your old phone is wiped clean and is set to factory settings before you sell or donate your old phone. Same goes for your old computers or laptops and tablets.

There's More

There’s not enough done when it comes to protecting yourself from cyber crimes. Needless to say keep your credit cards and credit information safe, watch out for suspicious phishing emails, never give away your information to odd phone calls that claim to be your credit card company or the CRA. Never hand out your credit card information over the phone. Stay alert and keep safe!