On Sept. 7, Equifax announced that the records of approximately 143 million Americans were breached between May & July of this year.
Those records contained names, birth dates, addresses, Social Security numbers and some driver’s license numbers. At this time, it appears hackers did not gain access to full credit reports. In addition to the personal information accessed, 209,000 credit card numbers were obtained. Equifax has indicated that debit cards were not exposed – therefore criminals are unlikely to have the ability to withdraw funds from a checking account. The biggest risk posed by this breach is the threat of identity theft.
Was my information stolen?
If you have a credit report, there’s a good chance it was. Go to a special website set up by Equifax to find out: https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on “Potential Impact,” enter some personal information and the site will tell you if you’ve been affected. Be sure you’re on a secure network (not public wi-fi) when you submit sensitive data over the internet.
Consumers should visit Equifax’s website to enroll in its free credit monitoring program, TrustedID Premier.
Equifax is offering free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection to all U.S. consumers for one year following the breach. You do not need to provide credit card information to enroll. Consumers who sign up for the program will not be automatically enrolled or charged at the end of the year.
We work very hard at The Bank of Bennington to protect our customer’s information
Despite this, there are third parties that get compromised and are out of our control. Please take some precautionary steps. Log into your The Bank of Bennington online bank account and sign up for text alerts to assist in monitoring transactions. Choose “options” on the navigation bar and go to the bottom link, “Manage Alerts.” Here you can set up alerts that will go to your email or phone to help monitor account activity. While logged in, review your statements closely for suspicious activity. Report them immediately.
Internet banking is your friend here. Monitoring your accounts and credit report for unauthorized transactions is critically important.
When the bank and customer work together, we can better prevent fraud. Banks use a combination of safeguards to protect your information, such as employee training, strict privacy policies, rigorous security standards and encryption systems. In addition to using Equifax’s TrustedID Premier, consumers can check their credit reports from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – for free – by visiting annualcreditreport.com. Unfamiliar accounts or activity could indicate identity theft. If you suspect you are a victim of fraud, you should alert your bank right away.
In the event of a fraudulent transaction, consumers are protected against losses.
When a customer reports an unauthorized transaction, the bank will cover the loss and take measures to protect your account. The banking industry is committed to continuing its tradition of safeguarding confidential financial information.
How do I contact the three major credit bureaus to place a freeze on my files?
Where can I get more information about the Equifax breach?
You can learn more directly from Equifax at https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/. You can also learn more by visiting the Federal Trade Commission’s web page on the breach at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2017/09/equifax-data-breach-what-do. To learn more about how to protect yourself after a breach, visit https://www.identitytheft.gov/Info-Lost-or-Stolen.