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Equifax Data Breach: What You Need to Know

You may have heard about a data breach, originally reported on Thursday, September 7, involving Equifax. Equifax is a credit reporting agency that is used by banks, credit card companies, retailers and lenders across the U.S.  It is estimated that 143 million consumers could be affected by this data breach, which includes consumers’ names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver’s license numbers.

The Federal Trade Commission has released some steps you can take to find out if your information was exposed and how you can protect yourself.  We have summarized below:

1. First, find out if you are impacted.

Visit Equifax’s website to find out if your information was exposed: https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/ . Click on “Potential Impact” and enter your name and the last 6 digits of your Social Security number.  Make sure you’re on a secure computer and an encrypted network connection. The site will tell you if you’ve been affected by this breach.

Whether or not your information was exposed, consumers can get a year of free credit monitoring from Equifax. Follow the instructions on the website to enroll. (Please note that Bank of Tennessee does not endorse this service).

2. Obtain a free credit report.

You can check your credit reports from the three credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – for free – by visiting annualcreditreport.com. This secure website is a service that is endorsed and approved by the Federal Trade Commission. Activity on your reports that you don’t recognize could indicate identity theft.  If you suspect identity theft, visit IdentityTheft.gov to find out what to do.

3. Consider placing a credit freeze on your files.

If you are impacted, placing a credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open an account in your name. However, a credit freeze won’t prevent fraudulent charges on your existing accounts. This is a more extreme step, so consider the cost and hassle.  If you’re about to take out credit for a house, car, student loan, etc., you’ll have to freeze and unfreeze your credit each time.  If you have no plans to apply for new credit soon, it’s a good step.

To learn more go to: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs

Links to freeze your credit file:

Experian: https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html
TransUnion:  https://www.transunion.com/product/trueidentity-free-identity-protection
Equifax:  https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp

4. Visit all of your online banking and financial accounts.

Continue to monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts for charges you don’t recognize. If you should notice any suspect charges on your Bank of Tennessee accounts, please contact us immediately at 866-378-9500.