As the leader of Old National Bank’s Risk Management Department, my unwavering focus is on helping the bank and its clients mitigate and manage risk. In light of the recent Equifax breach, which reportedly impacted more than 140 million individuals, a number of friends and colleagues have asked me for advice about reducing their own risk for fraud exposure.
What I’ve told these anxious friends and colleagues is this: I’m happy to share with you the steps my family and I are taking to protect ourselves. I thought I’d take a few moments to share this same information here on oldnational.com.
The Primary Steps:
Adding a “security phrase” to bank accounts. My first course of action was to add a “security phrase” (which is essentially a verbal password) to my family’s bank accounts. In the future, when we (or fraudsters) call to access these accounts, the client service department will ask for this security phrase in addition to more traditional authentication questions. For Old National accounts, you can request to add a security phrase by calling or visiting any of our banking centers or by calling 1-800-731-2265.
Watching bank and credit card account activity
Implementing a credit freeze. By “freezing” access to our credit reports with the three major credit agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) plus a fourth credit agency known as Innovis, my family and I are ensuring that no one can gain access to our credit reports – to obtain new credit or for any other reason – without having access to a special personal identification number (PIN) for each account and providing 24 hours’ notice.
If you choose to take this step, you’ll want to freeze your credit for all four agencies. Based on the state you live in, there may be a minimal charge for freezing and un-freezing (sometimes known as “thawing”) your credit. With the recent high volume of activity, accessing these sites might take a few tries.
You should be able to freeze your credit online at the following sites:
. While I tend to do this anyway (remember, I work in Risk Management!) I am now watching my account activity a bit more vigilantly. We also take advantage of the automatic mobile “alerts” offered through Old National’s Online Banking, as well as similar alerts associated with other credit card accounts. These alerts are activated whenever any large transactions take place involving our accounts, so we know quickly if activity takes place that we didn’t initiate or authorize. Generally, you have the flexibility to set up these alerts based on your typical banking activity.
Monitoring the three major credit bureaus
. Anyone can do this for free at www.annualcreditreport.com
. Rather than checking all three reports at once, I spread my monitoring out during the year, checking a different credit report each time.
Some Additional Steps:
While the above actions are what I consider most critical for reducing the risk of fraud and identity theft, these additional steps are an effective part of a more comprehensive strategy.
Opting out of pre-approved credit offers
. Anyone can do this at OptOutPrescreen.com
Completing tax returns ASAP
. Situations like the Equifax breach lend themselves to tax refund fraud. The best way to guard against this possibility is to complete and submit your taxes as soon as you have all the required forms.
Establishing an account at ssa.gov/myaccount
. Setting up an account with the Social Security Administration allows you to monitor your annual earnings to ensure a fraudster is not using your SSN for employment purposes. Setting up the account also ensures a fraudster doesn’t set up the account to gain further access to your information.
There are additional commonsense things you and your family can do to reduce your risk of fraud and identity theft, such as establishing strong passwords and changing them frequently, and knowing how to spot phishing emails and avoid phone scams. You can learn more about these subjects and more by visiting the Old National Security Center
For more information from Equifax, visit equifaxsecurity2017.com
Candice is Executive Vice President and Chief Risk Officer at Old National. She has more than 25 years of experience in banking and business management, with an expertise in risk management including the areas of information security, fraud prevention and investigations as well as physical security and safety.
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