New concerns after Equifax breach

New advice on protecting your finance and identity, in light of new Equifax breach developments

The latest developments in the Equifax breach are causing even more concerns about protecting assets and identities.

Equifax now says it had a separate incident earlier this year, before the big one, which may have compromised the personal data of 143 million Americans.

And, the Federal Trade Commission has now issued an alert about possible phishing, warning consumers about callers posing as Equifax and asking people for their personal information.

In East Syracuse today, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners was holding its Upstate NY Chapter meeting, with Equifax a hot topic.

We asked for advice, for consumers.

Randy Phillips, a financial institution security consultant with Thompson Consulting Group in Oswego and keynote speaker at the conference, told us that if someone is calling you and asking for personal information, you should be very cautions and ask yourself if you're really talking to who you think you are. And if you get an online request, he recommends not clicking on a link, but rather typing in the address of the organization you think is asking for your information.

If you are asked to give personal information on a credit card you hold, Grace Ghezzi, a Certified Fraud Examiner says, you should call the number on the backside of your card to confirm that the inquiry is legitimate, before giving out any information.

Ghezzi also recommends keeping a close eye on the status of your credit card and banking accounts, checking them more frequently than just with the monthly statements. If you're banking asks for your account status--how much money is in it--every time you make a transaction. Double check credit card transactions to make sure all are yours.

There are also concerns about how many federal government records are compromised by the Equifax breach, especially income tax access information. Ghezzi suggests you plan to do your taxes as soon as possible, as this year ends. You can get your income information off your payslip, and use your December financial statements. The idea, she says, is to get your return filed so that an identity thief does not get in before you and take your refund. If your information is not perfect, you can file an amendment when all the documentation is in.

There are also concerns about the computer you use. Security consultant Phillips says two popular Microsoft operating systems, Windows Seven and Windows XP, are both outdated. Even good virus scanners cannot protect from cyber attacks in vulnerable systems. "That's not enough," he says. If you're using an outdated operating system with known vulnerabilities, the bad guys are gonna get into it.

View a previous story (Sept. 11) on protecting your money from Cybercriminals:
This coming Monday, September 25 our Answer Desk will answer your questions on computer and on-line security.

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