Broker Check

The Equifax Breach: Be Informed, Take Precautions

| October 05, 2017
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A message from your SRQ Wealth Team 

A few weeks ago our office circulated a blog to our readers concerning Hurricane Irma and how to best prepare for the hurricane. In the middle of Hurricane Irma’s devastation to our state, another type of crisis happened digitally with a data breach at Equifax.

The SRQ Wealth team is circulating this special edition Ripple Effect E-newsletter today because we are just as concerned about this event as we were about the hurricane. 

Ken Weingarten, CFP® of New Jersey crafted a well-thought-out opinion on what we should do in response to this historic data breach. We are copying his entire letter to his clients below and sharing it with you, our clients and friends, because we do not think we can improve upon it. 

Before you delve in and read this letter, and we strongly suggest that you do, we want our clients to know that our operations team is diligently monitoring your account activity and we want you to know firsthand that your security and wellbeing is our first priority. Please keep in mind that the only way to open an account in your name at LPL Financial is to do so through our office and there is very little, if any, chance that a nefarious actor could open an account in your name without us physically approving documents and verifying the identity of you, the signer. This is just one of the many ways we at SRQ Wealth and LPL Financial protect our clients and their personal information. 

LPL Financial has released a number of tips to help you protect your identity. If you would like to know more, click here to read the LPL Financial ID Theft Brochure.

If you have any questions or concerns you have about the Equifax breach and how it may affect you, please do not hesitate to let us know.

Ken Weingarten, LPL Financial and SRQ Wealth are separate entities

Client Letter from Ken Weingarten, CFP®

"The recent hack of the Equifax database has caused quite a bit of legitimate concern about our personal financial information. Many of our clients are wondering what, if anything we should do about this. We need to understand the risks involved when the 'bad guys' get a hold of our personal information. Identity theft can take many forms: applying for a credit card, filing a fraudulent tax return, applying for a driver's license, and a few other things that we would hope would never happen to us.

These risks are real and we need to be cognizant of them, but not necessarily fearful if we take prudent precautions to protect ourselves. We also must admit that no matter what we do, the hackers are going to keep coming and we all need to stay vigilant in monitoring our own information as much as possible. Heck, if Equifax cannot keep our personal information safe, who can? My response is to simply stay as vigilant as possible.

So, what to do? First, and foremost you should consider a credit freeze with all three credit bureaus. Here is a link to an article that discusses this topic with a few other tips. I should note here that if you freeze your credit you will have to temporarily unfreeze your credit whenever you apply for a loan of any type. It can be a bit of a hassle, but this hassle seems a lot milder than dealing with a fully identity theft issue.

Second, I am sure many are wondering about signing up for the free credit monitoring that Equifax is offering. I tend to agree with Clark Howard's opinion on this one. There has been some discussion about a limitation on one's ability to join a class-action lawsuit against Equifax, but that is not the case. I will likely sign up for Credit Karma myself once my current free monitoring ends as a result of a T-Mobile hack a while back!

Third, while credit monitoring is certainly important, you can do your own monitoring to a large degree by checking your free credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com. Every four months I send out a reminder to check your annual credit report from each of the three credit bureaus. (If you do one every four months, then you are taking full advantage of the once/year you are allow to obtain your credit report.)” read more

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