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Understanding the Equifax Security Breach

Perfect Plastic recognizes the effect that the Equifax breach has had over the clients you serve. With the potential exposure of over 143 million Americans’ Social Security numbers, credit card numbers and other personal information, people want answers and reassurance.  Perfect Plastic would like to share resources that help you do both.

First, make sure your client has indeed been compromised. By taking them to Equifax’s website, equifaxsecurity2017.com you can help them determine their next step.

Whether they have been breached or not, this is a great opportunity to help discuss how to protect their identity and finances. Make sure your client is using secure passwords and different ones for each website. Encourage them to store this information outside of their phone. Many thieves gain access to valuable records when people lose cell phones or laptops. Though the Equifax breach goes well beyond such actions.

Next, have them set up fraud alerts with their credit agencies. A fraud alert is free and when you have an alert on your credit report, a business must verify your identity before it issues credit. It stays on your report at least 90 days and can be renewed.

You can also suggest to your client that they freeze their credit. Typically it costs about $5-$10 to freeze it, they will have to call each of the three credit bureaus Equifax 1-800-349-9960, Experian-1-888-397-3742 and TransUnion-1-888-909-8872. If they apply for new credit, they will have lift it temporarily. The benefit is that no one has access to their credit report.

Talk them through money monitoring. Equifax is currently offering free credit monitoring, but the offer comes with opting out of future class action suits. Services such as CreditKarma.com and mint.com also exist. Along with money management, this may be the time to discuss improving their credit score, adjusting errors on their credit report or consolidating credit cards. When looking at credit cards, EMV cards and chip card technology are a buyer’s best protection against fraudulent transactions. Because the data on chip cards constantly changes, it makes it hard to extract.  This makes the chip card a security upgrade from the magnetic strip card.

In addition to the Equifax breech, take time to talk with your clients about other cyber attacks. While we hear a lot about retail data breaches such as those that occurred at Target and Taco Bell, they were only responsible for 1.3% of identities exposed last year, whereas services such as Equifax, account for almost 45% of data breaches.

Since many clients are small business owners, they need to be encouraged to be particularly diligent to cyber attacks since they often do not have the personnel to detect or prevent them in the first place. With an average tab of $50k for cleanup, some small businesses end up being unable to absorb the cost. Suggest that small business owners have a security audit. Contracting information security, will alert them to any concerns. Staying up to date on equipment, programs and installing updates will help prevent cyber attacks. Maintaining safeguards with employees and encouraging secure passwords and access to only the information they need will help reduce cyber breeches.

Whether your client is someone affected by the Equifax breech, or a small business you are safeguarding for the future, working through these steps will help them feel more confident about maintaining an identity online. This is your opportunity to provide important services above and beyond those your competition may offer. We value your relationship with us and understand your clients are your lifeblood. We at Perfect Plastic stand ready to help. We all need to understand this is neither the first or the last identity breach. This incident can and should be a turning point for the financial services industry. It needs to end its reliance on static personal identifiers like Social Security numbers and birth dates. We will work through this together. We will continue to be your resource for information and innovation through these important events.