By Anessa V. Cohen
By now all of you have probably heard that Equifax, one of the three main credit-reporting services, has put us all in jeopardy by being hacked. You would think that as a massive national credit service, they would have layers of security already in place. But it seems that they decided they were so big they could scare away any hacker trying to get into their vast files of personal credit information of millions of people with some kind of scarecrow.
Now they claim that 143 million people are in danger because the company never put a solid security setup in place to protect their troves of personal information. The hackers zipped right through, scooped up all those accounts, and are selling them on the black market for G‑d knows what future use—none of it good!
I think the additional indignity on top of this irresponsible behavior on their part is their attitude that they can just wave it off by offering each person free credit ID monitoring for one year. As if this will solve the whole problem! The arrogance of whoever in Equifax came up with this idea!
Then they made matters worse by sending announcements to people directing individuals to enter the last six digits of their Social Security number and other delicate information onto a site to see if their file was one of those compromised! If 143 million Social Security numbers were already stolen, just how secure is a site where you need to enter the last six digits as well as other discretionary information to find out if you are one of the victims? Don’t you think the hackers can get into this site as well and get more stuff? Mind-boggling!
What good is one year of credit monitoring going to do someone whose ID was already stolen at Equifax and used to open new credit? What are they going to do, send you a letter that fraudulent accounts may have been opened in your name? OK, and now what, Equifax? Are you going to take care of those fraudulent accounts or are you saying that just telling me about them absolves you of any responsibility for how they came into being, and I am on my own in trying to get rid of them!
There are many questions, and also some answers that are owed to the public, as to why a depository of such vital information was not monitored for security protection before these hackers managed to get in and have a field day with our private information.
The most important thing that needs to be done at this time by everyone is whatever is necessary to protect your credit information and your ID. I am in the process of having temporary freezes put onto all my credit-bureau accounts, which hopefully will remove the ability of ID thieves to open new accounts in my name with whatever information was gleaned from the hackers. My recommendation to all people concerned with ID theft is to do the same. It will be a little annoying, since every time you apply for new credit you will have to call the credit bureaus to temporarily unfreeze your account. But better safe than sorry!
Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and a licensed N.Y.S. loan officer (FM Home Loans) with over 20 years of experience offering full-service residential, commercial, and management real-estate services as well as mortgage services. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, www.AVCrealty.com. Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to anessa@AVCrealty.com.