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Protecting Your Credit File After The Equifax Event

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On September 7, 2017 Equifax, one of the "big three" credit bureaus, announced a cybersecurity incident that enabled fraudsters to access the personal information of about 143 million consumers.

Potentially compromised information includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, and addresses, in addition to some credit card numbers and certain documents on file.


Equifax's response

Equifax is offering consumers an opportunity to find out if your information was exposed. Because the site asks you to enter the last six digits of your Social Security number, you should use a secure network to submit your request.

To check your status, visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.

Equifax also has committed to providing all U.S. consumers a year of complimentary identity theft protection and credit file monitoring. Although some sources cautioned that enrolling in this service would waive your rights to future legal actions, Equifax's FAQ page explains that the Terms of Use were adjusted for this special coverage to remove such restrictions.


Additional recommendations

A data breach of this size is definitely alarming, but unfortunately, cybersecurity incidents are becoming more and more prevalent. On September 5, 2017, the Identity Theft Resource Center reported a total of 975 documented data breaches so far in 2017, exposing 19,367,773 records. This number does not include the Equifax event.

Sometimes no amount of preparation will protect all of our information from potential compromises. However, keeping a close eye on your credit report and bank accounts will help you recognize suspicious activity so you can quickly report it and avoid unauthorized charges.


Always report suspected fraudulent activity on your Bank Independent accounts immediately by calling Customer Service at (256) 386-5000 or (877) 865-5050.


Bank Independent offers the following recommendations and information for protecting and monitoring your credit file:


You may request a credit freeze on your credit file, which means potential creditors cannot get to your credit report.  The length of time a freeze can stay in place and the cost to place and lift a freeze depends on state law; find your state's Attorney General's office at www.naag.org to determine applicable fees and how long the credit freeze lasts. For more information on freezing your credit, visit the Federal Trade Commission's Credit Freeze FAQs.


Another option is to create a fraud alert on your credit file. Unlike a credit freeze, an alert still allows creditors to get a copy of your credit report, but only after taking steps to verify your identity. For example, you could require businesses to call you to verify that the request you initiated the request.


You have the right to request a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies (including Equifax). Visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call (877) 322-8228 to order your report(s) or learn more about how you can receive your free report. Credit reporting companies may charge you a fee for an additional copy of your report within a 12-month period. To buy a copy of your report, visit Equifax.com, Experian.com or Transunion.com.


If you see errors on your credit report, like accounts you didn't open or debts you didn't incur, contact the credit reporting companies and the fraud department of each business that reported an error.


If you're a victim of identity theft, credit reporting companies must block identity theft-related information from appearing on your credit report, but you must request this block from each of the credit bureaus.


How Bank Independent protects you

The actions we've suggested above are all things that you can do on your own to protect your personal and financial information and monitor your credit report. As your financial institution, we at Bank Independent are also committed to doing everything we can to keep your information safe and secure.

For example, all Bank Independent deposit accounts come with complimentary advanced protection including:

  • Purchase Monitoring – Your Bank Independent debit card transactions are monitored 24/7 for fraud.  If purchases deviate from your normal patterns, you may be contacted to confirm purchases.

  • Zero Liability Policy – Under MasterCard’s liability program, your signature debit card purchases may be covered against fraud when you report your card lost or stolen within a reasonable period of time.

  • Extra ID Verification – Whether you’re at a teller line or calling customer service we will ask specific questions or request identification to verify your identity.  

  • Confidentiality Policy – Bank Independent will never share your information with a third party in an attempt to sell you other services without your permission.

  • Online Challenge Questions – Online Banking now contains extra security features to ask challenge questions when accessing through a new device or location.

  • Transfer Authentication – We provide enhanced verification of wire and bank-to-bank transfers.

  • Online Fraud Notification – We provide monitoring for suspicious Online Banking and Online Bill Pay access.

  • BI Card Guardian - An extra layer of complimentary protection from debit card fraud.

  • Complimentary Online Statements – Protect your identity with online statements delivered to a secure inbox, not an unprotected mailbox.

To learn more about what we do to protect you, and what you can do to protect your own information, please visit our Identity Protection webpage. As always, we are here to answer your questions.  Please call our Customer Service team at (256) 386-5000 or (877) 865-5050 Monday through Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. to speak with a representative.


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Bank Independent does not endorse, nor is responsible for the content in the linked 3rd party websites. Bank Independent's privacy policies do not apply to these linked websites.

Bank Independent does not endorse, nor is responsible for the content in the linked 3rd party websites. Bank Independent's privacy policies do not apply to these linked websites.