Protecting Yourself from Data Breaches

On Thursday, September 7, 2017, Equifax announced a cyberattack that may potentially affect over 143 million Americans.  According to Equifax, they identified the breach on July 29, 2017 and their forensic investigation revealed that criminals had unauthorized access to their systems from mid-May through July 2017.  The information accessed primarily includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. Criminals also accessed credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 U.S. consumers, and certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers. 

Is Your Information Included in the Equifax breach?  To help you determine if your personal information is included in the data breach, Equifax is offering a website address for you to check:  To find out if you may be impacted, enter your last name and the last six (6) digits of your Social Security number.  You will then receive a message with instructions to enroll in a complimentary identity theft protection and credit file monitoring service, called TrustedID Premier. Please visit the Equifax website above for complete details, FAQs, and enrollment instructions. 

Please Note:  Carefully read the Terms of Use before agreeing to enroll in Equifax's free credit monitoring program, TrustedID Premier.  In response to consumer backlash, while Equifax states in their FAQ's for Consumers that they removed arbitration language from their TrustedID Terms of Use which no longer requires you to waive any rights to take legal action, it is important to note that they have not removed it from their general Equifax Product Agreement and Terms of Use on their primary website. As a result, it has been noted that, as owners of TrustedID Premier, Equifax may have created some confusion by offering two separate Terms of Use. Therefore, should you choose to enroll, the best way to protect your rights to participate in any future litigation regarding this breach may be to opt-out of their general arbitration provision. To do so, you will need to mail a letter that includes your name, address, and Equifax user ID within 30-days of enrollment that states you do not want to be bound by binding arbitration.  Please refer to your Right to Opt-Out in the Equifax Product Agreement and Terms of Use. 

What else should you do?

While almost half of all American consumers may potentially be impacted by this breach, even if your personal information was not exposed, there are still a number of steps you can and should always take to protect yourself from identity theft:

  1. Monitor your accounts for any suspicious activity. This includes all of your financial accounts - checking and savings accounts, credit cards and even loans.  The best way to do this is by using online banking and e-statements so that you have fast, easy access to your account information and transaction activity.
  2. If you suspect fraud, contact your financial institution right away.
  3. Obtain your free credit reports from each of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies. Look for incorrect information and any accounts you do not recognize which could be a sign of identity theft. Get started by going online to, or call, toll-free, 1-877-322-8228. 
  4. Keep your receipts and check them against your statements.
  5. Keep a record of all debit and credit card numbers, expiration dates and the issuers’ phone numbers in a secure but accessible place.  
  6. Never give out personal financial information to callers, or those who seek it in e-mails.
  7. Use unique and complex passwords and change them often on all of your online accounts - banking, credit cards, email, payment processors, and any merchant accounts that you’ve allowed to store account numbers.
  8. Protect your home wireless network with a strong password of at least eight characters, including upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. 
  9. Keep your computers and mobile devices up to date with the latest security software, Web browser, and operating system.
  10. If you suspect wrong-doing, contact the Federal Trade Commission at or by calling, toll-free, 1-877-438-4338.

Your financial security is our top priority!  Please contact us immediately if you suspect any fraudulent activity on any of your accounts.  Check out addtiional ID Theft & Security articles online in our Financial Resource Center for additional information on protecting yourself and your family from all types of fraud and scams, or stop by and visit your banker with any questions or concerns.