December 7th 1941 is known as the “date which will live in infamy,” because of the attack on Pearl Harbor. In today’s day and age, American citizens are more prone to cyber attacks. Although cyber attacks are not deadly, the panic and fear that results from a cyber attack is similar to a physical act of terror. One can also say September 7th 2017 is a date which will live in infamy due to a data breach at Equifax that compromised the confidential data of 143 million Americans.
After Pearl Harbor, Americans said “Never Forget” which is also good advice for today. You may have gotten busy or have been lulled into a false sense of security since nothing seemed to be going wrong with your data.
However, as you may have heard on our Your Life Your Wealth Podcast with Anthony Mongeluzo, President of PCS and Cordasco Financial Networks cybersecurity expert, he states that the larger repercussions from the data breach will likely occur in years to come. Right now, Mongeluzo explained, the hackers have too much data to sift through. But after this sifting process takes place, anywhere from one to three years, your risks will be much, much higher.
Here’s how you can protect yourself:
- Check with Equifax to see if you have been impacted. Click here. If you have been impacted, you will be asked to sign up for a free-credit monitoring service provided by Equifax. Since I was impacted, I elected to sign up for the service.
- Download apps for your active credit cards. Most apps allow you to see charges almost instantaneously, unlike monthly statements. For example, American Express will allow you to set up notifications for any large transactions. You can also log onto your credit card accounts throughout the day to monitor transactions.
- Change your passcodes. Consider going to a one password service like Last Pass.
- Consider third party protections such as LifeLock, IdentityForce, or IDShield. These third- party protections are very helpful and will immediately notify you of any questionable activity on your card.
- If you are getting a tax refund, file as soon as possible in 2018. The longer you delay, the easier it is for a thief to file a fictitious refund in your name to get your refund. Unfortunately, there’s not a thief in the world that will pay the taxes you owe.
- Freeze your credit reports. There can be fees, and unfreezing can take time, but it may be the highest level of security you can effect on your own.
By protecting what you have with these simple steps, you can take an important step forward in securing for your future, no matter what obstacle may come your way.