ANDY'S CONSUMER TIP OF THE DAY: more Equifax breach insight
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - As I predicted in my Facebook Live and Equifax web assistance story last Friday, Equifax has eliminated that goofy (and unenforceable, according to New York's attorney general) "waive your legal rights" clause from its offer of free credit monitoring in the wake of the credit bureau's massive consumer data breach. Just as I told some of you naysayers, the clause was meaningless and reckless. Some Equifax lawyer got smart very quickly.
Anyway, in addition to the helpful step-by-step process I provided you in that coverage (just click on those links above if you haven't already), the consumer resource and credit score retailer WalletHub.com offered five excellent suggestions to go with ours (although if you want the most reliable credit score, go to myFICO.com):
* SIGN UP FOR 24/7 CREDIT MONITORING. This confirmed what I've been telling you since the breach went public. Take Equifax up on its offer, or if you're not comfortable with it, consider paid credit monitoring services offered by the other two credit bureaus, TransUnion and Experian. "Absolutely take it," said Randy Hutchinson, president of the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South and a former banker for First Tennessee. "You'll get some early notice to see if accounts have been opened in your name fraudulently or something else is happened and get a jump on getting the problem fixed."
* ENABLE TWO-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION. Use your smart phone as a secondary log-in to Equifax or any of your financial, social media or other accounts that are password-protected. You'll use your password plus a secondary code texted or emailed to you to ensure only you can log into that account, even if someone knows your password and attempts to log in from his or her own devices.
* A FREEZE IS BETTER THAN AN ALERT. "If you really want to protect yourself from fraudulent borrowing, freeze your three major credit reports (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion)," said a WalletHub news release. "This will prevent anyone but you from accessing them, thus making it impossible to take out a loan or line of credit. A fraud alert, in contrast, doesn't actually do much." This is a good idea as long as you're not about to apply for a mortgage, car loan or other line of credit. If you have a credit freeze, then apply for a loan, it could be blocked. Make sure you temporarily lift the freeze if you are in the market for a loan.
* SUPPRESS FRAUDULENT INFORMATION. WalletHub.com suggested using "suppression/blocking" to clean your reports of negative, inaccurate marks caused by identity theft. It said those marks should not reappear after removal.
* NEVER RESPOND TO UNSOLICITED REQUESTS FOR INFORMATION. I repeat this one over and over. Just don't answer. When it comes to identity crooks, you have permission to be rude.
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