Lions & Tigers & Hackers, Oh My!

One of the three major credit agencies - Equifax - got hacked a few weeks ago.   If you've just emerged from under your rock, here's an article to catch you up. 

I've received a bunch of calls and emails from concerned clients about what to do and how much should they be concerned. 

Personally, I'm not losing any sleep over it.  These hacks happen all the time.  Many of them make the news, and many more don't.

The two ways getting hacked could affect your finances is:

1) It screws up your credit or
2) You get robbed

Of course, that doesn't factor in non-financial things like posting embarrassing pictures of you on Facebook.  But this is a personal finance blog, so you're on your own for that one. 

Credit agencies, banks, and credit card companies deal with fraud on a regular basis.  It's just a part of doing business in 2017. 

When bad things happen to good people, most financial institutions will fix whatever the bad guys did to you.  (Double check with yours to make sure though.)

If your credit gets dinged, the credit agencies will fix it.

If you get robbed, the bank or credit card company will reimburse you.

The real downside to getting hacked is the time it takes to call three different credit agencies and work with the financial institutions to reimburse the charges.

So how can you protect yourself? 

Simple.  Do what you should be doing already:

  1. Review your credit report annually.   The federal government allows you one free credit report each year from www.annualcreditreport.com.    There are three credit agencies - Transunion, Experian, and Equifax.  Your credit report will consolidate information from all three of them.  
     
  2. Review your credit card and bank transactions daily (or at least weekly).  Lucky for you, it's 2017 and technology makes it really easy.  An account aggregator like your Financial Zen Client Portal consolidates all of your financial accounts in one place.   Login and 3 clicks later you're looking at all your transactions.  If you're not a Financial Zen Group client, you can use sites like www.mint.com or www.personalcapital.com.   And if you're old-fashioned and still get paper statements, you'll have your work cut out for you, but you should still check every transaction, every month.

I'm not losing sleep over the weekly hack headlines and neither should you.   Just make sure you're on top of your stuff. 

If you get hacked it will most likely be from someone guessing your password.   More on that next week…