September 2017

Equifax recently announced a severe security breach that may have exposed private information belonging to 143 million individuals. While you may have never dealt directly with Equifax, the company tracks financial transactions for most consumer loans, mortgages, revolving lines of credit, and credit card accounts. Equifax has not released full details on the compromised data but it is believed to contain Social Security numbers, dates of birth, home addresses, current bank accounts and even driver license numbers. Based on the scope of this breach, experts believe there is a 50% likelihood that your personal data was included in this breach.
While you may not have signed up with Equifax service, you cannot stop your personal data from being reported to this credit reporting service. The effect of this breach is expected to be felt for many years and will effectively force everyone to monitor their credit, and possibly the credit of their young children and older parents, more closely to prevent attempts at fraud.

Recommended actions for credit monitoring

• View Equifax’s online registry (https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/). Check this site often over the next several months to see if current information is updated. Be aware that many consumers are struggling to access the site, due to a high volume of visitors.
• Sign up for the one-year free credit monitoring service with Equifax.
• As always, carefully monitor your banking and credit card statements for unusual activity.
• Obtain a free copy of your credit report from each of the credit rating agencies once every 12 months. You can do this by visiting annualcreditreport.com or by calling 877.322.8228.

Addressing identity theft

If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, you should contact the financial institution where the breach occurred, along with the proper law enforcement authorities, which may include your local law enforcement, your state’s attorney general and the Federal Trade Commission.
Consider establishing a “free” fraud alert with one of the credit agencies and request that company inform the other two agencies. A fraud alert will only last 90 days and will require an authentication process if credit is requested during this period. This can be renewed after 90 days.
The last option is a credit freeze which will stop all new credit applications, legitimate or not, associated with your account. There is a fee for this process and it does involve several steps to both initiate the freeze and to turn the freeze off.
If you have questions or concerns, please contact your relationship manager.

 

Quick Reference – Contact Information

• Federal Trade Commission –
1- 877-IDTHEFT (438-4338) or www.ftc.gov/idtheft
• State Attorney General – links to your state’s attorney general are available at www.naag.org/naag/attorneys-general/whos-my-ag.php
• Credit Agency

Equifax
www.equifax.com
P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241 | 1-800-685-1111
Experian
www.experian.com
P.O. Box 2104, Allen, TX 75013-0949 | 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
TransUnion
www.transunion.com
P.O. Box 1000, Chester, PA 19022 | 1-800-916-8800

 

For more information, please contact:
Dallas: Porter Montgomery at 214.756.6919 or pmontgomery@westwoodgroup.com
Houston: Maureen Phillips at 713.683.7070 or mphillips@westwoodgroup.com
Omaha: Nick Wilwerding at 402.393.1300 or nwilwerding@westwoodgroup.com
Newsletters can be found by visiting westwoodgroup.com.

 

The information contained herein represents the views of Westwood Holdings Group, Inc. at a specific point in time and is based on information believed to be reliable. No representation or warranty is made concerning the accuracy or completeness of any data compiled herein. Any statements non-factual in nature constitute only current opinion, which is subject to change. Any statements concerning financial market trends are based on current market conditions, which will fluctuate. Past performance is not indicative of future results. All information provided herein is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be, and should not be interpreted as, an offer, solicitation, or recommendation to buy or sell or otherwise invest in any of the securities/sectors/countries that may be mentioned.