Last Friday, Equifax announced a data breach that potentially affects approximately 143 million U.S. consumers. The company believes the unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July 2017 and that the information accessed primarily included names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers.
To ascertain whether you have been affected by this breach, we encourage you to consider the following:
First, Equifax is offering free (for 1 year) ID Theft Protection and Credit File Monitoring as a result of this - you can learn more at https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/, but this is certainly something to consider, even if you are already using another service. We would also STRONGLY encourage you to maintain the coverage after the free year is up - it is possible that the risks of having any compromised information used increase after this initial free period expires.
If you have another monitoring service in place, keep it. You can also consider adding something like Lifelock (www.lifelock.com) or a similar service which notifies you if your personal information is used to make a credit application.
Finally, we all need to exercise added vigilance in the wake of this - please pay closer than usual attention to your credit card statements, etc. We also highly recommend anyone effected by this breach to change all financial passwords. Any suspicious activity should be immediately flagged with the provider and credit bureaus, and if in fact there are fraudulent transactions, reported to your local police department.
The following article from the Wall Street Journal, 5 Ways to Protect Your Finances after Equifax Data Breach offers a few additional steps you can take if you believe you have been affected.
We continue to monitor developments concerning the breach and will provide more information for any affected clients as it becomes available.
If you have any questions, we encourage you to contact the Counselor with whom you regularly work or you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Views expressed are as of the date indicated and are based on the information available at that time. The Information and opinions above are not intended to represent specific investment or professional advice. No client or prospective client should assume that the above information serves as the receipt of, or a substitute for, personalized individual advice from GW & Wade, LLC, which can only be provided through a formal advisory relationship.
Clients of the firm who have specific questions should contact their GW & Wade Counselor. All other inquiries, including a potential advisory relationship with GW & Wade, should be directed to:
Laurie Gerber, Client Development
GW & Wade, LLC