Phishing

Ep. 041 - The Equifax Data Breach with Credit Expert John Ulzheimer

How many of you were impacted by the recent Equifax data breach? I was, Mark was, and considering 145.5 million other Americans were impacted, I’m going to guess that includes many of you too.

Now that the news is out, heads have rolled (CEO Richard Smith has stepped down), Congressional hearings have taken place, where do things stand? More importantly, what should you do? Who should you trust?

In times like these, there’s one go-to person: John Ulzheimer, the foremost authority on anything involving credit scores, credit reports, breaches, etc. John is so good that we did this interview on the phone!

Formerly of FICO, Equifax and Credit.com, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry. He has served as a credit expert witness in more than 270 cases and has been qualified to testify in both Federal and State court on the topic of consumer credit.

We’re going to get into all the dos and don’ts with John, but so you also have the vitals to reference, here are the main takeaways:

  • Contact one (under Federal law, each is obligated to notify the other two) of the three credit bureaus Equifax (800-766-0008), Experian (888-397-3742) and TransUnion (800-680-7289) to put a free fraud alert on your credit report. You should also contact a fourth, lesser known company Innovis. The alert makes it harder for an identity thief to open more accounts in your name, but experts note that alerts usually just slow down the process of criminals opening accounts in your name, they don’t prevent it.
  • If someone has used your information to make purchases or open accounts, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and print your Identity Theft Affidavit. Use that to file a police report and create your Identity Theft Report.
  • Place a credit-freeze on your credit file, which generally stops all access to your credit report. Unfortunately, you need to contact all the companies to freeze your file. Here are the links: Equifax; Experian; TransUnion and Innovis. Important note about a freeze: If you need to access credit, you have to unfreeze your records, which can take a few days. Some states charge a fee for placing or removing a credit freeze, but it’s free to place or remove a fraud alert.

I’m not trying to freak you out or make you even more paranoid, but the reality of the situation is not if your information will be compromised, but when.

“Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment.

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#342 Identity Theft Protection with Adam Levin

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Yes, this is still here, and it will be for a while longer to serve as a reminder that there's a new place for Jill on Money content - YouTube!  Seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes it takes a little outside help (h/t to JOM friend, Joe A!) to recognize the obvious.  So don't freak out.  Going forward, we're going to put all our radio and podcast content on YouTube! It'll be easier for you to navigate and listen to past shows, because everything will be in one place.  Just click any of the links below and you'll be able to listen to this week's show as well as anything else you see that might interest you, including all the Better Off podcast content if you haven't been listening. Let us know what you think by emailing us at askjill@jillonmoney.com.

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Sept 23 Download Hour One Here

How would you feel if you had a windfall of nearly a million dollars? Pretty darn good, right? That's what happened to Chris from Arizona.  But when you come into such a large chunk of change there are plenty of other things one must consider.  Namely taxes.  Uncle Sam always wants his cut, and more times than not, it's unavoidable.  But there are some ways in which the tax hit can be minimized and that's why Chris was calling.  He wants to keep as much of the windfall as possible for himself...can't say I blame him!

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Sept 23 Download Hour Two Here

In light of the recent Equifax data breach we thought it was as good a time as ever to run a recent interview I did with identity theft expert Adam Levin, whose book Swiped: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers, and Identity Thieves, recently came out in paperback. We conducted the interview BEFORE Equifax, which is why we don't discuss it.

Adam is a consumer advocate with more than 30 years of experience and is a nationally recognized expert on security, privacy, identity theft, fraud, and personal finance. A former Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, Levin is Chairman and founder of IDT911 (IDentity Theft 911) and co-founder of Credit.com.

According to Adam, it’s best to assume the worst and learn how to protect your personal information, because creative and determined hackers are working hard to piece together snippets of information from a variety of sources in order to re-create your profile and use it to perpetrate fraud.

You need to guard your information, including Social Security Numbers, phone numbers, email and physical addresses, credit reports, medical records because thieves are trying to create a well-rounded dossier on who you are. But as you'll hear, there are steps that can be taken to minimize the damage.

This is scary stuff but I also think it's essential listening.  Like Adam says, it's when, not if, you will become a victim...a fact we have learned all too well with the Equifax data breach.

Thanks to everyone who participated this week, especially Mark, the Best Producer/Music Curator in the World. Here's how to contact us:

  • Call 855-411-JILL and we'll schedule time to get you on the show LIVE 

Anthem Data Breach: How to Guard Against Identity Theft

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Anthem, one of America's largest health insurers, has confirmed a massive data breach. Hackers stole as many as 80 million records of customers, as well as of past and current employees. Social security numbers, birthdays and addresses have been compromised, though at this point, no credit card data, bank information or medical history appears to have been accessed. The Anthem breach follows big events at Experian, eBay, JP Morgan Chase, Home Depot, Target, all of which have occurred in the last two years. While there is no single way to protect your coveted identity, but there are plenty of best practices to employ to keep the criminals at bay.

Because it is tax season, let’s start with specific tax-related scams, which the I.R.S has highlighted on its “Dirty Dozen” List of Tax Scams for the 2015-filing season. In addition to electronic hoaxes, where some may unknowingly turn over personal information to criminals; there are also fake calls from fraudsters get unsuspecting taxpayers to fork over money they don't owe. The IRS says that some of the most common scams are those, which are the most personal -- unscrupulous tax practitioners who promise outlandish refunds. If you think you've been scammed by a tax preparer, report it to the Treasury Inspector General Administration and forward any IRS phishing emails to the IRS.

In general, you should refrain from providing businesses with your Social Security Number just because they ask for it. Give it only when required. (Medicare recipients take note: your SSN is printed on your Medicare card, so be careful with it!) Also, don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you have initiated the contact or you know with whom you are dealing. If you have older relatives or friends, encourage them to let you know if they have been contacted by any organization, which offers a very high or “guaranteed” return at “no risk”, requires an urgent response or cash payment or sends email from an unrecognizable address.

Additionally, it is imperative that you review each credit card statement before you pay it -- I know it sounds silly, but many simply pay the bill, potentially missing a fraudulent charge. Finally review your credit report every 12 months at annualcreditreport.com. You want to make sure that nothing fishy has cropped up.

If you think that your identity has been stolen, you should immediately contact one of the three national credit-reporting companies (Equifax 1-800-525-6285, Experian 1-888-397-3742 and TransUnion 1-800-680-7289) to put a free fraud alert on your credit report. The alert makes it harder for an identity thief to open more accounts in your name. The company you call must tell the other companies, so need to call all three. The alert lasts 90 days but you can renew it, and the alert entitles you to a free credit report from each of the three companies.

The next step is to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and print your Identity Theft Affidavit. Use that to file a police report and create your Identity Theft Report. After these initially notifications and filings, you should consider taking a few more steps to prevent further damage. You can place credit-freeze on your credit file, which generally stops all access to your credit report. A less draconian step is to place an extended fraud alert on your file, which permits creditors to get your report as long as they take steps to verify your identity. The availability of a credit freeze depends on state law or a consumer reporting company’s policies; while fraud alerts are federal rights intended for people who believe they are, or who actually have been, identity theft victims. Some states charge a fee for placing or removing a credit freeze, but it’s free to place or remove a fraud alert.

Unfortunately, identity theft is here to stay, so the sooner you familiarize yourself with protections as well as remedies, the better off you will be.

#191 Open Enrollment Season

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Ah, the change of the clocks, the never-ending temptation of Halloween candy and the mind numbing exercise of choosing new benefits! It's that time of year -- open enrollment -- and we have special guest Paul Essner of The Signature Group to help wade through the choices.

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Paul raised an important issue, but luckily it's one that you can address. As the cost of insurance rises, many are not taking into account their specific health care situations and as a result, they are not choosing the most affordable health care option.

The solution is easy: you need to understand how you are using health care and project what the year ahead will look like to determine the best plan for you. (Hint: Some may be better off using high deductible plans, paired with Health Savings Accounts!) Paul also addressed some of the nuances of the Affordable Care Act and its impact on employers, as well as how some companies are rolling out new benefits that could be advantageous.

Karen is 61 years old and plans to retire next year. Her big question is whether she will be able to supplement her pension and Social Security, to the tune of about $20K per year. The answer is yes, with a caveat…

We helped Sally figure out whether or not to take an employer buyout and discussed how Barbara and her husband should pay for long-term care.

Thanks to everyone who participated and to Mark, the BEST producer in the world. Check out Mark's first-producing credit for this CBS Evening News segment that aired recently. If you have a financial question, there are lots of ways to contact us:

  • Call 855-411-JILL and we'll schedule time to get you on the show LIVE 

#190 Credit Boot Camp with John Ulzheimer

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Nationally recognized expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft John Ulzheimer joins us for a pre-holiday season credit boot camp! John is the President of The Ulzheimer Group, the Credit Expert at CreditSesame.com and the credit blogger for Mint.com. Formerly of FICO, Equifax and Credit.com, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry.

  • Download the podcast on iTunes
  • Download the podcast on feedburner
  • Download this week's show (MP3)

John scared the you-know what out of us, as he discussed identity theft. Did you know that Phishing is out, but SPEAR-PHISHING is in? Bottom line: it's going to happen to you, so you better be smart about how you handle your information.

As we head into the holiday season, John offered tips about debit versus credit cards and rounds out our conversation with credit score basics. As a reminder, here's what determines your score:

  • Payment History: 35%
  • Total debt outstanding: 30%
  • Credit History: 15%
  • Inquiries (Hard): 10%
  • Credit Mix: 10%

Here are links to John’s blogs:

We had a great call from Mary in KY, who is contemplating retirement at the end of this year. Take a listen to hear how you might start thinking about your own retirement!

Thanks to Rita and Julie, who sent us lovely thank you notes and to Tucker, who gave us the opportunity to discuss having "THE TALK" with your aging parents. As a reminder, here is my updated post on "Estate Planning Checklists".

Thanks to everyone who participated and to Mark, the BEST producer in the world. Check out Mark's first-producing credit for this CBS Evening News segment that aired recently. If you have a financial question, there are lots of ways to contact us:

  • Call 855-411-JILL and we'll schedule time to get you on the show LIVE