What Retirees Should do in Wake of Equifax Data Breach

Millions of people, roughly 143 million Americans, were affected by the Equifax data breach.

The world wide web is full of advice now about what customers should do today. However, are there things that retirees should do or consider to protect their identity that are different from those not yet retired?

“Yes, Retirees need to take extra actions to protect their life savings,” said Elizabeth Loewy, general counsel and senior vice president of industry relations at EverSafe, an identity theft protection service.

Comprehensive freeze your credit

Others agree. “(The Equifax violation) is a sign that you are only as secure as the areas that hold your personal information with the weakest security,” stated Steven Weisman, an attorney, creator of scam alert and education website Scamicide, and author of “Identity Theft Alert”. “The advice that has been given to everyone who might be affected by the information breach to suspend your credit at each of the three major credit reporting agencies is great advice for retirees as well as non-retirees.”

Fraud alerts are worthless and frequently ignored by companies issuing credit without any kind of punishment, according to Weisman.

Most Folks are aware of the credit alert and credit freeze choices, at this point, Loewy said, and many seniors are thinking about whether this makes sense for them. “But if a customer’s data was stolen in May of 2017 and exposed before the breach has been discovered in late July, it’s possible that harm was done before the breach was publicized in September,” she said. “If fraud and identity theft monitoring was in place before the breach, the senior should have been advised if there was suspicious activity affecting their financial accounts and/or their credit report.”

A Comprehensive monitoring platform should offer a daily analysis of a retiree’s financial accounts (e.g. checking, savings, investment, retirement), charge cards, in addition to credit report data for inconsistent trades, including the opening of new, potentially unauthorized accounts– and signs of identity theft on the dark web. For seniors fraud alarms should cover issues related to aging, such as erratic action like penalizing checks, missing deposits such as pension checks, by way of example, repeat charges, or unusual investment products.

If a person Signs up for this kind of monitoring, across reports and credit report data, it should occur before a consumer applies for a freeze. Why so? “Because a freeze first will likely mean that the credit bureau won’t permit the fraud monitoring service to deploy,” Loewy said.

Do not give your Social Security number to a medical provider

A Person’s Social Security number can easily be exploited for purposes of identity theft and it’s the loss of the information together with birth dates and other private data in the Equifax data breach which makes this particular data breach so threatening, says Weisman.

“However, Many retirees are providing their Social Security numbers to individuals and institutions with which they do business that do not really need the number,” he said. While they often routinely ask for it as an identifier, they do not need it. Retirees should always ask if they can offer another number.

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