We’re coming up on the one year anniversary of the giant Equifax breach where criminals accessed sensitive data including credit card numbers, birth dates and other self-identifying information affecting some 148 million U.S. consumers.
While most people are no longer in panic mode, changing passwords or being especially critical of their accounts, it’s important to note that while time has passed since the discovery and announcement were made, it doesn’t lessen the probability of a security breach attempt. In fact, as more time passes, it’s important to keep this incident and the possibility of what could happen with your personal information in the front of your mind.
Here are some tips for spotting unusual activity and what you should continue to do to keep your guards up.
Be wary of any emails or phone calls from fraudsters posing as credible contacts from banks or credit institutions calling to confirm your account details or asking you pay a fee or unlock a password. Proceed with caution to all outreach of this type. To be safe, you can always hang up and dial the legit phone number to these institutions if you need verification that the request was valid. Criminals have gotten very clever so even if everything looks legit, company logo on letterhead, a seemingly valid email, or a caller ID number that matches, it’s important to remember that all of these credentials can easily be spoofed by criminals today.
If you’ve always paid your bills on time and never had an issue with bad credit or your account going negative, something may be wrong when you suddenly realize you’re getting bills in the mail you don’t recognize or if you try to open a credit line and mysteriously are denied. If you run into issues with your tax return or haven’t been getting your mail regularly, these situations can point to suspicious activity happening with your information that you should address immediately.
What can you do now?
If you’ve been lucky enough to not run into any of the issues described above, you should take security seriously and get protections in place as soon as possible. Here is a quick list of tips to help strengthen your defenses against scams:
- Check your bank accounts regularly to see anything mysterious happening with your balance (sometimes fraudsters will try to take an unrecognizable amount like $1 before starting a larger attack)
- Always check your credit reports and report anything on there that’s shouldn’t be.
- When there is an option to add 2-factor authentication to your accounts, be sure to sign-up. This will make it harder for fraudsters to gain access to your account without the second layer required to unlock an account.
Keeping you and your family safe is a top priority at Petruzelo Insurance. Some home and renters insurance policies include identity theft insurance that can help protect you in the event of a crime. Contact us to learn more.