You have likely heard about the recent Equifax data breach, as this unfortunate event affects approximately 44% of Americans. Equifax was compromised and the personal information of approximately 143 million consumers was stolen. The information leaked may include:
This was NOT a compromise of Leighton State Bank and no information was taken from our systems. We wanted to share this information about Equifax to ensure you are aware of the issue and take the proper precautions to reduce the chances of fraud and identify theft.
You may be familiar with the “big 3”, but did you know there are FOUR credit bureaus? They are Equifax, Experian, Innovis and Trans Union (these are links to their credit freeze websites) Again, be wary of scammers sending fake links.
A security freeze will prevent anyone from accessing your credit report. So, if a scammer tries to open a new line of credit using your name, date of birth, and social security number, when the lender or account opener tries to pull your credit report, it'll say it's blocked and that you have to contact the credit bureau. Note: it will NOT say the report is frozen; this is part of the security feature.
If you put a freeze on your credit report, each of these places will give you a 6-digit number (PIN) for you to use if you want to unfreeze or thaw your reports. Be sure to secure this PIN somewhere so you won’t lose it. If you need to unfreeze your account, you will need this PIN. If you lose it, it may take up to a week or more to obtain access to your account again and delay your credit opening process.
If YOU go to open an account, you'll have to contact the credit bureau ahead of time (either on the phone or online) and "thaw" your account for a little while. You can set the "thaw" either for a period of time or for a particular creditor. Also, if you want to completely remove it, you can, if you determine you don't want the protection any longer. You will need that PIN you set for the bureaus to thaw or unfreeze your reports. You can also temporarily thaw your account. For example, if you know you're going to be looking for a car over the next week, call the four bureaus and thaw your report for the next week. Or, if you are applying for a credit card, call and unfreeze your report for that company, and then turn the freeze back on.
Depending on your state of residence and your circumstances, you may also have to pay a small fee to place a freeze at each bureau. The fee ranges from $0 to $15 per bureau, meaning that it can cost upwards of $60 to place a freeze at all four credit bureaus (recommended). In Iowa it costs $10 at each bureau. That’s $40 to freeze all your credit. It’s also $12 per bureau to thaw your credit. You can thaw at one bureau or all 4 – check with your lender to see who they use.
Choosing to use credit freezes like this may be a little inconvenient, however it may be better than the alternative – cleaning up your credit after your identity has been stolen. Prevention is better than cure.
A less-impactful alternative to a credit freeze is a fraud alert. A fraud alert requires potential creditors to contact you and obtain your permission before opening new lines of credit in your name. You are allowed by law to file a fraud alert (also called a “security alert”) with one of the credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian or Trans Union) every 90 days (these are links to their credit freeze websites, which are safe to click and share). Whichever one you file with is required by law to alert the other two bureaus as well. The fourth bureau, Innovis, follows the same rules as the big three, and you may file a fraud alert with them as well.
Fraud alerts last 90 days, and you can renew them as often as you like (a recurring calendar entry can help with this task); consumers who can demonstrate that they are victims or are likely to be victims of identity theft can also apply for a long-term fraud alert that lasts up to 7 years (a police report and other documentation may be required).
Free Credit Reports:
You are entitled by law to a free credit report from each of the Big 3 once a year. This means you can check your credit 3 times a year (once every 4 months with each of the bureaus). The only site you need to obtain this free copy is annualcreditreport.com, or by phone at 877-322-8228. Everywhere else will try to sell you a report, or offer a “free” report if you agree to sign up for some kind of subscription service — usually credit monitoring. There are lots of look-alike sites out there (like freecreditreport.com) that are not the real, government-mandated service, so watch out.
Your free credit report will show all your lines of credit and other debt obligations, along with lots of data. However, it won’t show your FICO score. It usually costs money to get your FICO score.
Identity Protection Programs:
Although Equifax is promoting their own credit monitoring service, TrustedID, (be sure to read the fine print prior to signing up) free for one year, you may want to consider evaluating other Identity Protection options as well.
Leighton State Bank provides fraud protection at your fingertips with Shazam® BOLT$™. Add your debit card to this secure app, and be alerted when potential fraud takes place. Receive alerts when a transaction exceeds a preset amount, when a card-not-present transaction takes place (for example, internet orders), or when suspicious transactions occur.
Here's what you need to get started:
Transaction Control with Shazam® BOLT$™:
With just the tap of a button, you can temporarily freeze your card and protect yourself from fraud. Once the risk of fraud has been resolved, you can use the same feature to unblock your card.
Here's what you need to get started:
These are your recommended options to help prevent identity theft causing you to have to clean up your credit:
If you believe you are the victim of identity theft, you should contact the proper law enforcement authorities, including local law enforcement, and you should consider contacting your state attorney general and/or the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”). You also may contact the FTC to obtain additional information about avoiding identity theft.
You may obtain information from the FTC and the credit reporting agencies listed above about placing a fraud alert and/or credit freeze on your credit report. Please also visit the “State Information” tab of this site.
Please contact Equifax for specific questions about the Equifax breach and its effect on your information. Equifax has set up a dedicated call center, which you can contact at 866-447-7559. If you have other questions, please feel free to contact us at 641-628-1566.
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