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Posted on OCT 10, 2017

Equifax September Security Breach FAQs

In September, Equifax reported a massive data breach. Hackers accessed the personal details—including names and Social Security numbers—of more than 145 million consumers from mid‐May to July. It remains unclear how the data will be used. Use these FAQs to understand what you need to know and what steps you should take now to monitor and protect your information.

Q: What information was impacted by the breach?
A: The information accessed primarily includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver's license numbers. Criminals also accessed credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 U.S. consumers, and certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers.

Q: What is Equifax doing to help consumers after the breach?
A: To determine if your personal information may have been impacted, please visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. Please be aware, you will need to provide them with your personal information, including your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security Number. Equifax is offering one free year of credit file monitoring and identity theft protection, which includes 3‐Bureau credit monitoring of your Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion credit reports; copies of your Equifax credit report; the ability to lock and unlock your Equifax credit report; identity theft insurance; and internet scanning for your Social Security number. You must complete the enrollment process by January 31, 2018.

Q: What if I determine from the site that I wasn't impacted by the Equifax breach?
A: You still may find the information helpful in protecting your information and proactively taking steps to deter fraud and identity theft. You also can enroll in the one year free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection from Equifax.

Q: If I enroll in the credit monitoring and identity theft protection, I understand I waive my rights to sue the company in connection with this breach. Is that true?
A: Equifax has issued a statement saying that the terms in the agreement do not apply to this cybersecurity incident and you would not be waiving any rights.

Q: There are many options available. May I select more than one and what are the advantages of using a fraud alert, security freeze, or the file lock feature in the TrustedID Premier product from Equifax?
A: You do not need to choose a single option. We recommend choosing the ones that best suit your individual situation and credit activity. These options are described in greater detail below.

  • Fraud Alert: A fraud alert, also known as a security alert, is a notification that warns creditors that you may be a victim of identity theft. Think of a fraud alert as a “red flag” for those third parties that may consider extending you credit. Fraud alerts are free, and will still allow third parties access to your credit reports. However, if there is a fraud alert on your credit report, third parties will be encouraged to take certain steps to verify your identity before extending you credit. Once you place a fraud alert with one of the three major consumer reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, Trans Union), it will be automatically placed with the other two. Please remember an initial fraud alert only lasts 90 days, although you may renew them as many times as you wish.

  • Security Freeze: A security freeze prevents any potential creditors from accessing your credit file unless you lift or remove the freeze, either temporarily or permanently. With a freeze in place, ID thieves can apply for credit in your name but few, if any creditors will extend credit without having access to your credit report. Security freezes are regulated by each state and use a PIN based system for authentication.

    Equifax has waived the fee to add, lift or permanently remove a security freeze through January 31, 2018. However, the other consumer reporting agencies may charge to place or remove freezes as fees are regulated by state law. The freezes remain in place until you lift or permanently remove them. You will also need to contact each consumer reporting agency individually to place or remove a security freeze. The contact information for each agency is listed below:

    800.685.1111 or 800.525.6285


    888.397.3742 or 800.493.1058

    In addition to the three major consumer reporting agencies above, Innovis provides data solutions for businesses including identity verification, fraud prevention, receivable management and credit information. They also provide individuals with credit reports, dispute resolution, fraud alerts and security freezes. To place a security freeze contact Innovis at:

  • File Lock: An Equifax credit file lock is similar to a security freeze and allows you to lock access to your Equifax credit report. Lenders cannot access your Equifax credit file to open new accounts unless you unlock your file. However, when you lock your Equifax credit file, it does not lock your credit file at the other consumer reporting agencies. The lock feature is available within the complimentary TrustedID Premier product Equifax is making available to consumers.

    Coming soon: A new service from Equifax will be available before January 31, 2018, for consumers to control and access their Equifax credit file directly. They will provide more details soon. As of today, they have said that consumers will be able to use their smartphone or computer to lock and unlock their Equifax credit file. Visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.com to keep abreast of these details as they are updated.

Q: Is there anything I should do in addition to fraud alerts, monitoring or a security freeze that would help me stay ahead of ID thieves?
A: Yes. It is important to check your financial statements on a regular basis. You should review your statements and look for fraudulent transactions or unusual balances. You should also enroll to receive account, transaction or card alerts via email or text message from your financial services provider. If you have online or mobile banking, use these services to check your account activity more frequently. Report any suspicious activity immediately.

Periodically order a free copy of your credit report. By law, each of the three major consumer reporting agencies must provide a free copy of your credit report each year, via a government‐mandated site: annualcreditreport.com. You can also order a free credit report from Innovis as well. The best way to take advantage of this free service is to make a notation in your calendar to request a copy of your report every 120 days, review the report and report any inaccuracies or questionable entries when and if you spot them.

Q: Is it possible that if I use credit monitoring, fraud alerts or have a credit freeze in place it will not stop ID thieves from fraudulently claiming a tax refund in my name with the IRS, or conducting health insurance fraud using my Social Security Number?
A: Yes that is the case. There are several forms of identity theft that may not be stopped by a freeze, monitoring or fraud alerts. That's why it's very important to regularly review your financial statements and your credit file with the consumer reporting agencies for any signs of unauthorized activity. You should also plan to file your taxes as soon as you have the tax information you need, before ID thieves attempt to file in your name.

Q: Can I place a security freeze at the same time I have credit monitoring in place?
A: Yes, you can. However, it may not be possible to sign up for credit monitoring services while a freeze is in place. Experts recommend that you sign‐up for the free credit monitoring first and then put the security freezes in place.

Q: What should I do if I experience identity theft?
A: If someone has used your personal or financial information to make purchases, get benefits, file taxes, or commit fraud, that's identity theft. Visit IdentityTheft.gov and click “Get Started.”

This site is the federal government's one‐stop resource for identity theft victims. The site provides detailed advice to help you through the recovery process, including:

  • A personal recovery plan that walks you through each step
  • Checklists to help update your plan and track your progress
  • Pre‐filled letters and forms to send to credit bureaus, businesses and debt collectors
  • Reporting the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission

As always, our advisors are committed to helping you or answering your questions. For additional fraud information and security tips, visit www.johnsonbank.com/security/security-tips. If you feel your accounts or information have been compromised by identity thieves contact your advisor or the Johnson Customer Support Center at 888.769.3796 immediately.