TO: Valued Clients & Advocates
FROM: Morrie W. Reiff, CFP®
Your Financial Concierge
SUBJECT: Equifax Breach & Credit Monitoring Information
The Equifax breach of security has resulted in the compromise of the private information of more than 143 million consumers. This is not new, as banks, credit agencies, our government, and our medical insurance companies have all been successfully attacked. As we rely more on technology, this type of breach is becoming more common and there are steps you can take to protect your information.
Equifax is offering a free 12-month subscription of their “TrustedID” program, but the process also indicates that signing up waives your right to participation in class action lawsuits. You should consider that the “free” subscription from Equifax only lasts for 12 months and your information could be used for nefarious purposes for much longer time period. We have listed other providers below.
Credit Karma Online Help Forum www.creditkarma.com
Identity Guard 877-505-7054 www.identityguard.com
All Clear ID 877-441-3009 www.allclearid.com
Protect My ID 866-541-6913 www.protectmyid.com
Life Lock 800-416-0599 www.lifelock.com
The above companies may charge a fee, but we believe it may be worth it as it will not opt you out of any legal action against Equifax. You will have to review the various companies and costs/benefits to determine which is best for you.
At a minimum, you should review your credit reports periodically. You can request free credit reports from all of the major organizations in one place using AnnualCreditReports’ online system. You can also ask the credit bureaus to place a free fraud alert on your credit report file. This warns lenders that they should take extra steps to confirm your ID before issuing new credit. However, this alert generally only lasts for 90 days.
Additionally, you could put a freeze on your credit with the various reporting institutions. There may be a nominal cost to do this (Equifax says they will waive this) and there may also be a cost to unfreeze it. A freeze should prevent credit, loans and services from being approved in your name, without your consent. Additional information on credit freezes can be found with the credit agencies below.
Equifax 800-349-9960 www.freeze.equifax.com
Experian 888-397-3742 www.experian.com/freeze/center.html
Transunion 888-909-8872 www.transunion.com/credit-freeze/place-credit-freeze
Innovis 800-540-2505 www.innovis.com/personal/securityFreeze
As an additional note of caution, SPAM calls are on the rise, and some calls “spoof” numbers using a similar area code and matching the first three digits of the number they are calling. This increases the likelihood of the recipient answering the call. Please use caution in providing ANY sensitive information via telephone and note that most unsolicited calls you receive are SPAM. The credit bureaus and IRS will NEVER contact you via telephone or email, instead they mail letters to the address of record.
Related to your investments- the financial industry and Fidelity are committed to keeping your accounts and personal information secure. This link contains information on Fidelity’s processes and procedures. www.fidelity.com/security/overview
As a client of Planned Asset Management, we monitor your account activity and receive alerts for money movement in/out of accounts. As a general rule, funds can only be sent to the address of record and payable to the account owner unless a client signature is obtained. For one-time electronic transfers, we require verbal verification from the client. We receive alerts when new instructions are created and since we administer most of our clients, any new instruction that is not added by us is suspect.
Also, if you wish, Fidelity can add heightened security to your account. This measure would increase the number of questions Fidelity asks to verify your identity. We can add heightened security with the verbal request of any joint owner or trustee, and can also remove it with a verbal request.
Fidelity has also implemented a voice recognition system to verify your identity. To initiate this on your accounts, please contact Fidelity retail directly at 800-544-6666.
For our in-house data, we use a Barracuda onsite backup manager for data protection which allows onsite monitoring as well as virtual monitoring. Barracuda is utilized for backup, retention, file restoration, and firmware updates. Planned Asset Management prohibits the use of remote access in its entirety.
In addition, the following software/hardware is used:
- ESET Endpoint Antivirus- updated automatically each day and residing on each workstation.
- Titan Intrusion Prevention System- hardware and software provided by Oasis technology that uses real-time analysis and self-adjusting logic. This is a front-end security device with IPS and 24-hour monitoring.
- Sonicwall - firewall/router and IPS.
- Intermedia – encrypted emails.
As we have seen, data breaches are becoming more common. However, clients can take steps to protect and monitor their data to prevent identity theft and financial loss. While utilizing the above options for protection against the “bad guys” they are becoming more sophisticated and constantly finding new ways to get to your vital information. We believe this deterrent provides an extra line of defense against their attacks.
As always, please call or email us with any questions or concerns.
Your PLANNED ASSET MANAGEMENT Team
Advisory services through Planned Asset Management (PAM) and Quantitative Strategies Inc. (QSI), A registered investment Advisor. Securities and additional advisory services offered through Independent Financial Group, LLC (IFG), a registered broker-dealer and investment advisor. Member FINRA/SIPC. PAM and QSI are not affiliated entities of IFG.
26135 Mureau Road, #201 ~ Calabasas, CA 91302 ~ (818) 708-6888 or (800) 655-PLAN ~ FAX (818) 466-6774