Free credit freezes from Equifax

Many people have had very sensitive personal information exposed in the Equifax breach — Social Security numbers, account numbers, even drivers’ license numbers. Equifax is offering free credit freezes until November 21, 2017.

If you’re thinking of placing a freeze, consider the following:

  • A freeze means that no one (including you) can access your credit file until you unfreeze it, using a PIN or passphrase. That makes it harder for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name.
  • To be effective, you must place a freeze with all three credit reporting agencies — Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.
  • A freeze can cost you money every time you freeze and unfreeze your file- at a cost of $5 to $10 per agency each time, depending on your state’s law.

Fraud alerts are free.  With a fraud alert, creditors must try to verify your identity before extending new credit.  The alert lasts for 90 days, You can renew it but you will need to remind yourself or it will expire automatically.  Identity theft victims, however, are entitled to an extended fraud alert which lasts seven years.  To place an alert, contact any one of the three major credit reporting agencies, either by phone or online.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students if they are willing to pay about $5 to $10 each time they freeze or unfreeze their accounts with each credit agency.
  • Let students debate the issue: “A fraud alert is better than a credit freeze.”

Discussion Questions

  1. What are the differences between a fraud alert and a credit freeze?
  2. Should you consider a fraud alert or credit freeze if you become a victim of an identity theft? Why or why not?

Russian Hackers Might Have Your Information

You first heard the reports in August 2014: reports that Russian hackers have stolen more than a billion unique username and password combinations, and more than 500 million email addresses, grabbed from thousands of websites.

How do you know if your information was part of this hack?  You really don’t, but don’t take any chances.  Change the passwords you use for sensitive sites like your bank and email account–really any site that has important financial or health information.  Make sure each password is different so someone who knows one of your passwords won’t suddenly have access to all your important accounts.

Can you make sure this doesn’t happen to you again?  Unfortunately, you can’t.  But take all precautionary steps and lessen the odds scammers will get a hold of your information.

For additional information, go to

http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/russian-hackers-might-have-your-info-now-what

 

 

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to discuss

  • Ask students if anyone they know has had sensitive information hacked.
  • Have students present proposals on how to protect themselves from hackers.

Discussion Questions

  1. Is creating new passwords enough to keep your information safe?
  2. Is there anything else you can do to protect your sensitive information?