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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Equifax Data Breach: What to do

Equifax Data Breach: What to do

Here we go again: Another massive data breach, reminding us how vulnerable we are to thieves seeking our personal information and identity. Last week, credit monitoring company Equifax announced that a “Cybersecurity Incident” had exposed names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some cases, driver's license and credit card numbers, from a whopping 143 million Americans. “Incident” sounds a little tepid for the magnitude of this event, but more critically, consumers who were instructed to go to the Equifax emergency web site, equifaxsecurity2017.com to determine if their information had been compromised, ran into a brick wall: After entering the required information, people could not get confirmation about whether or not they were affected. 

#327 Credit Scores and Identity Theft with John Ulzheimer


We're keeping this blurb here for a while 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.


June 10 Download Hour One Here

In hour one, Freddy from Houston made Jill on Money show history: for the first time, a fellow CFP called me, the Senior CFP Board Ambassador, for advice! Freddy is a great saver, so great that his wife thinks he may be going overboard, robbing them of a little fun during their pre-retirement years.  Do I side with Freddy or his wife? You'll have to listen for the answer! But one thing is for sure, no matter how much you think you know or how qualified you are, it never hurts to get a second opinion.  Often times a third party will see things that you don't.


June 10 Download Hour Two Here

In hour two we brought back our old pal and credit score guru John Ulzheimer.  The credit score world is a rapidly changing one, and a big change is coming in July with NCAP, the National Consumer Assistance Plan, an initiative launched by the three big consumer credit reporting companies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The goal of NCAP is to make credit reports more accurate and make it easier for consumers to correct errors on their reports. Bottom line: NCAP will mean that millions of people will see their credit scores improve. John also described how Vantage Score's new use of trended data could change the credit score business in the years to come.

John also helped demystify the scary topic of hacking.  We've all been there...we've all had our credit card compromised at some point.  If and when that happens, what steps should you take and what should you do to prevent it from happening again? Will checking your credit report on a regular basis help?

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