Episode 84
With large data breaches at Capital One and Equifax, doing everything you can to keep your financial information safe is more important than ever. In this episode of GMR, we share 5 things you can do to make sure your identity and your finances stay safe.

SHOW NOTES

What are some recommendations and ways that we can protect ourselves financially?
— Diana from Frisco, TX

Let’s look at the two Diane mentions:

  1. Capital One

  2. Equifax

Capital One 

March of this year 106 Million customers had their data stolen. But it wasn’t until July that Capital One allegedly found the breach and reported it.

  • Over 100,000 Social Security numbers were stolen, many were linked to bank account numbers and other personal information.

Equifax

In September of 2017, Equifax announced it experienced a data breach. A class action settlement was submitted on July 22, 2019. Equifax denies any wrongdoing.

  • Approximately 147 million people’s personal information was compromised.

  • The Federal Trade Commission said last week that Equifax has agreed to pay at least $575 million and up to $700 million to help compensate victims of hackers who stole personal data from Equifaxservers.

  • The FTC said this week that because of the overwhelming public response to the settlement, the amount of cash you get to cover monitoring may be much less than $125.

  • The proposed settlement will start with a $300 million fund to compensate affected consumers who bought credit-monitoring services. Equifax will also pay $175 million to state and districts -- and $100 million to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in civil penalties. 

  • Equifax has agreed to kick in $125 million more compensate affected consumers for a total of $425 million to consumers, the other $275 million will go to government entities.

  • The Federal Trade Commission said Thursday consumers who have already requested their checks — which are meant as subsidies for outside credit monitoring services — will soon be contacted by the third party administrator handling Equifax settlement claims. The administrator will provide consumers with the chance to switch benefits, the FTC said.

  • Just $31 million has been set aside for reimbursements for alternative credit monitoring, out of a total of $300 million that Equifax agreed to pay in a settlement with the FTC announced last week.  "Another clear failure by the FTC." - Sen. Ron Wyden

Things you should do to protect your financial information

Change your passwords

  • It sounds simple, but making sure your passwords for your email and financial logins are complex and non-repetitive is key. 

  • Don’t use your Social Security number as a password, and avoid using information that is easily accessible on your social media accounts as the answer to a security question

  • This continues to be a problem … people tend to repeat the same passwords and use very simple terms. This is the first basic thing [to do to protect yourself].”

  • Because we use our phones and emails for so much of our communication, it may be tempting to send personal information like our Social Security or bank account numbers electronically — Don’t do it!  Instead we recommend doing it in person as much as possible or share it through a password protected PDF.

2. Ignore unknown phone calls

  • When it comes to phone calls, scammers can spoof their number to make it look like it’s coming from a specific company.

  • You can only be sure that it’s coming from someone you know if you’ve initiated the call. If you see a number that looks suspect, just ignore. If you do accidentally pick up, as soon as you realize it’s someone asking for information, hang up and don’t give them any information.

  • Telephone Scams

    • You’ve won a free vacation package

    • Buy products

    • Invest your money

    • Receive free product trials

    • Offer you money through free grants and lotteries

    • Threatened with jail or lawsuits if you don’t pay them

  • Safety Tips

    • Don’t provide your credit card number, bank account information, or other personal information to a caller.

    • Don’t send money if the caller tells you to wire money or pay with a prepaid debit card.

3. Shop on secure sites

  • Before entering any sensitive information on a website (like your credit card number on a store’s website), take a look at the browser. If the web address starts with “https” instead of “http,” then you know it’s a secure site. (The “S” stands for secure.) and ensures that all the communication with the website is encrypted.”

  • Smaller sites may not give you that option, and you’re a little bit higher risk than with the bigger retailers.” (And avoid entering any personal information while using any public Wi-Fi — sorry, no more online shopping while sitting at Starbucks!).

4. Use safe payment methods

  • So much focus is on security when shopping online, but don’t let your guard down when shopping in person.

  • Keep only one or two cards on you at all times to minimize the damage if your wallet is stolen, and so you know which ones they are if they’re lost  You really don’t need more than two anyway. 

  • Whenever possible use a credit card over a debit card — they will offer more protection. If you’re using a debit card, [a criminal] can drain your account, and there’s a good chance the bank will not be able to repay you for your losses.

  • Use your bank’s ATM when getting cash, less likely to have skimmers installed and your information be stolen.  Public places such as restaurants and gas stations should be avoided.

5. Monitor your credit

  • Because so much sensitive information has been compromised recently, monitoring your credit regularly is a must. 

  • Know your credit score and keep an eye out for drastic changes.

  • Most banks are offering credit scores as a free activity and service, so you have the ability of staying close to the information.

  • You can also get a free credit report from each major credit agency (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion and Innovis) once per year.  They talk to each other, so don’t get them all at once. Spread them out throughout the year … that way you can get one every few months. Go to a reputable site like Credit Karma or AnnualCreditReport to do so.

 

Resources

Budgeting and Debt Elimination Tools
Jesus on Money by David Thompson - stewardshippastors.com