Scammer Hits Equifax Hard – FTC All Over It
OK, this had to happen. It is not a surprise. It’s only a simple fact of life. We live in a world of scammers, and when there’s a crisis, for them, there is opportunity. There are scams and frauds, to take advantage of any emergency, its victims, and individuals attempting to do the right thing. The Equifax hack is no exception. And the scams have already begun.
“Don’t panic. But be cautious,” suggests Susan Grant, director of consumer protection and privacy at the Consumer Federation of America. “With this violation, criminals have everything they want to victimize you.”
I normally do not post Posts about consumer scams. However, the Equifax hack has made 143 million Americans more vulnerable. So here are a few of the scams you might encounter … and how to deal with them.
Equifax isn’t calling.
“This is Equifax calling to verify your account information.” When you hear this on the phone, hang up, says Lisa Weintraub Schifferle, Attorney in the Federal Trade Commission.
“Do not tell them anything,” she says. “They are not from Equifax. It is a scam. Equifax will not call you out of the blue.”
“Other calls might attempt to trick you into giving your personal information,” she says and offers these tips for recognizing and preventing phone scams and imposter scams:
Do not give personal or financial information unless “you’ve initiated the call and it’s to a telephone number you know is accurate.”
Do not trust caller ID. Scammers spoof numbers all the time. Do not press any key to talk to an operator. This will only trigger more robocalls.
Too late? Instantly change passwords, account numbers in the event possible, and security concerns. And check your accounts for strange stuff.
Fake news posts linking to fake Equifax websites.
“Immediately after the announcement of the information breach, articles started circulating that contained a link that allows you find out if your information was stolen,” according to a report from the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC). But the links lead to pages which are a phishing scam trying to collect your personal details.
In my posts on the Equifax hack, I verified every link to make sure it went to where it was supposed to proceed, for example, connection to Equifax where you can find out if your data was stolen (used it myself).
However, the ITRC warns, “It requires no work at all for scammers to create their own link, request your information for ‘verification’ functions, and then steal your information.”
So before clicking on the link, hover Over it with the mouse to display the URL and make sure it leads to the company’s website, you are trying to visit. Once on that page and before entering any data, check the URL in the address bar on your browser to make certain it actually belongs to the company that you want to reach.
Emailed phishing attacks have arrived.
The ITRC warns, “There are already scam emails in circulation that suggest you check your credit report by using their convenient link” This link will lead to a site where you’re asked to enter your most sensitive information, including Social Security number. Do not go there. Delete the email.
And by the way, if you see an online ad to that effect, Don’t click on it.
Instead, to get your free credit report, visit the FTC website. It shows you where and how to receive your free credit report. You have a right to a free copy per 12-month period; you can get more, but you have to pay.
Be vigilant, but don’t panic.
The ITRC recommends: “Because genuine information was stolen, be extra diligent about monitoring your account statements, looking for unauthorized charges, monitoring and reporting any suspicious activity, and keeping a close eye on your credit reports.”
Experience any strange activity on your accounts, report it immediately, no matter how minor it may appear at first.”
And for crying out Loud, never provide any data when requested in an emailed warning or alert to do so for “verification purposes.” For instance, if your lender is Citibank and you get an emailed warning from “Citibank” requesting you to click here and give your account number, etc., for “verification purposes,” delete the email. Then go to the Citibank website, log into your account, and when there is an alert, you will see it. Or call the Citibank number you’ve been using for many years and find out.
The Equifax hack And the justified worries and anxieties caused by it are a great Chance for scammers to make a buck at customers’ expense. There is No reason to fear. But we do need to be vigilant — more than ever before.