Equifax Data Breach: What you need to know to protect yourself

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Equifax Data Breach: What you need to know to protect yourself

You have probably seen the news of a significant data breach at Equifax, one of the primary credit reporting agencies in the United States. Initial reports from Equifax indicate that hackers have accessed the personal information of up to 143 million people, including names, addresses, birth dates, social security numbers and some driver’s license numbers.

You need to know that we at Pinnacle take this news very seriously. We are working directly with our Equifax contacts to determine how it may have affected you as a client.

Like all financial institutions, we are required to report all consumer banking data to the three primary credit agencies: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. We also use Equifax for credit checks in our loan process, but it is not our primary agency. In addition, all loan applications, with the exception of mortgage applications, are processed using another agency first, with Equifax only used in a small number of cases when the first source doesn’t return enough information. All mortgage applications are processed using all three credit reporting agencies. 

Because the size of the data breach is so large and its scope so broad, it’s nearly impossible to put together a comprehensive list of all Pinnacle clients who are affected. Thankfully, Equifax has a very simple process to find out if your information was accessed.

To find out if you are affected by this data breach, call 866-447-7559 between the hours of 7 a.m. – 1 a.m. Eastern Time.

It will ask for your last name and the last six digits of your social security number. Once you enter that, the website will tell you right away if your information was accessed. The entire process takes less than a minute.

If you are affected, Equifax is offering some limited credit monitoring and identity theft protection through its TrustedID service, though with some strings attached. If you want to take additional steps to protect yourself, here’s where to start.

The Federal Trade Commission has great advice online about ID theft protection services, but it essentially boils down to these two points:

  • Look into as many different companies as your time allows. Finding different companies that offer different services will allow you to compare services and prices.
  • Research each company’s background, such as how long they have been in business, their certifications, how their staff is trained and if complaints of any kind have been turned into the BBB.

“We encourage everyone to proactively protect themselves and not wait for a security breach like this one,” said Jeremy Hopwood, Pinnacle’s chief information security officer. “You should monitor your bank accounts, credit cards and credit report to ensure your identity and financial information is secure. Tools like Pinnacle’s online banking and guide to credit monitoring services can help.”

If you feel that you may be the victim of ID theft, you can visit identitytheft.gov, which was created by the FTC to help victims report and recover.

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