Equifax breach reminds us to take control

For some background, Equifax released the following details of the incident:

  • The incident potentially impacts personal information relating to 145 million U.S. consumers – primarily names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers.
  • The unauthorized access to certain files occurred from May 13 through July 30, 2017.
  • In addition, credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 U.S. consumers, and certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers, were accessed.

What next?
Go to: to see if your personal information may have been compromised in the breach. You will need to provide Equifax your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security Number.

To better protect your identity, here are some tips to consider: :

Be careful on public Wi-Fi networks.

  • Set a passcode for your phone.It takes a few extra seconds, but it could save you oodles of time later—time you would be spending recovering your identity from thieves.
  • Visit encrypted sites. If you’re on a website where you enter personal data or a password, make sure there’s an HTTPs in the address bar and a padlock symbol. If there isn’t, you could be exposing yourself to hackers.
  • Don’t use public networks. If your phone auto-joins public networks, it makes it easier for a hacker to spoof the real thing and instead connect you to a malicious network.

2. Use. Good. Passwords. Yes, you’ve heard this 1,000 times—but there’s a reason you have. Without good passwords, your privacy could be breached.  The most common password is STILL “123456” (and the second most popular is “password”). You can do better. Make sure it’s long (12 characters), is a mix of numbers, letters, special characters, and is completely unique. Use a password management tool to keep them safe.  Additional reminders – Do not share your password with anyone; do not reuse passwords; do not include any personal information in your passwords.

3. Keep your computer clean—and I’m not talking about dusting. Make sure all your software has the latest security patches (better yet, set up auto updates). This includes your operating system anti-virus software, internet browsers, and, of course, your security software too.

4. Secure your wireless network. You probably wouldn’t leave the front door of your house or apartment open, so don’t do it virtually. To keep it shut you should:

  • Change the name of your router.And while you’re at it, change the preset password
    on it too (here’s how to find it).
  • Set up a guest password, if that’s an option on your router.
  • Set up a firewall.Most new routers today have this feature built in, so just double-check that it’s up and running.

We hope these tips help you have a more secure day every day.

About Cheryl McCollum

Cheryl McCollum is an Associate Manager of Public Relations at TDS Telecom. She has 25 years of media experience. She’s worked as a newspaper reporter in Northfield, Minn., and Beaver Dam, Wi. She worked in media relations and advocacy for the Wisconsin Medical Society and the Wisconsin Bankers Association. She also worked in communications and advocacy for Habitat for Humanity of Dane County. She has a Journalism and Political Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She’s married, has two adult children and enjoys traveling, especially to U.S. state capitols.

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