So Equifax messed up, the breach potentially affects more than 45% of all Americans. Think about it this way, you are at the movies and the movie pauses, you read a message on the screen that reads –
“Hey patrons! Those of you who have parked your car in our parking lot, about half of those cars have had their windows broken.
But don’t you worry; we were able to stop the hooligans from breaking the remaining cars. Thanks for watching!
P.S. This happened about an hour ago”
And then the movie resumes…
So what’s going on in your mind now?
Your first thought should be, let me get out of here and checkout my car. And you are correct, since most of us keep a copy of our insurance cards in the car, and other personally identifying things such as credit cards, parking permits, office badge, favorite addresses on the GPS such as Home, School, Work, Gym, Kid’s day car and finger prints…so many personal details and so many fingerprints.
All of this information is potentially available to these hooligans. God forbid, if you kept your house keys in your car, then you have just supplied these hooligans with a copy of your house keys and your address. Don’t be that person; keep the lock and keys separate.
Facts of the Equifax breach that matter
- The breach lasted from May through July of this year.
- The hackers now have their victim’s names, Social Security Numbers, birth dates, present and past addresses and, in some cases, driver’s license numbers.
- The hackers also stole credit card numbers for about 210,000 victims and dispute documents with more personally identifying data for about 185,000 people.
Someone’s loss is another’s gain
I have received a plethora amount of emails from credit card companies and credit monitoring companies. These opportunistic companies have jumped up to gain your trust by making promises and providing tools to its patrons such as Discover’s Social Security Number Alerts.
This is still a lot better than Equifax trying to assuring you whether or not your information has been compromised with their “Are you f***ed tool”?
Luckily, you can still check whether or not your information has been compromised as Equifax has now taken back their conniving disclaimer about suing them if you are affected.
You can also sign up for Equifax’s shameless-excuse-of-being-sorry-service which boasts one year of free identity theft protection and credit file monitoring to all U.S. consumers, whether or not your information has been compromised by this incident.
Unlike the security guard at the movie theater, you cannot fire, dump or “get out” of Equifax.
Our financial data is the financial industry’s product, and our spending patterns are mere tools that differentiate this product. Yes, we are all puppets. The real consumers of this product are the financial institutions who check up on us. And this breach doesn’t hurt those consumers; it hurts us puppets, since this breach is not like the more recent Sony or Target data breaches. In Sony or Target’s case, we could simply find another company to dance for.
In the end, is up to us to protect ourselves. These are things I know and have already done –
1. Set a yearly reminder to closely monitor my credit reports, which are available free once a year through Annual Credit Report.
2. Signed up for in-built email and text alerts across all my existing credit cards and bank accounts.
3. Signed up for free credit monitoring from Credit Karma.
4. Signed up for Discover’s Social Security Number Alerts.
5. Plan on filing Federal taxes early (No income tax in the great state of Texas!). Here is why -
Hackers who have probably already sold this data to the scammers in the dark net could use it at any time. With about half of the US population’s data, they will wait it out until the good guys and the puppets become complacent. I need to stay more cautious for a long time, maybe up to 2 years, if not more, and I should not be surprised if a Nigerian lawyer stops’ sending me emails about the gazillions of dollars my uncle has bestowed upon me after his untimely demise, but when another El Jefe applies for a car loan in Manitou Springs, CO.