Happy Thursday from RDFA. For those of you in Cincinnati and areas north, stay warm today. For those reading this from much farther south, be thankful that you aren't here. With wind chill approaching 20 below zero this morning, the word freezing will be on the tip of the tongue for many of us.
You likely heard about the major security breach at Anthem which occurred in late January. Cyber attackers gained access to Anthem's IT system and obtained personal information - names, birth dates, addresses, Social Security numbers, and more - and the estimated number of people affected could be as high as 80 million.
One of the suggestions that Anthem has posted is the utilization of a credit monitoring service. We have long suggested to clients that they periodically run their credit report at https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action so they can review what is showing up. This site allows you to download your credit report from the three credit rating services: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax.
There is another option that I have personally put in place. Rather than just reviewing your credit for potential problems, you can also consider putting a credit "freeze" in place. This makes it where additional credit cannot be opened under a persons Social Security number. It costs $5 per service, per Social Security number, but it gives the piece of mind that additional credit cannot be obtained fraudulently.
Please note that if you later want to establish a new credit based account (credit card, car loan, home purchase) you will need to re-open the frozen credit at all three agencies. Again, you will be hit with the $5 fee at each location and for each Social Security number. It's crucial that you maintain the pass code which is assigned so you can contact the agencies to unfreeze the credit.
Should this be something of interest to you, here are the websites for freezing credit at each credit report agency. Please note that you'll have to input your Social Security number and other data to be able to make the "freeze" request, or you can utilize their phone system to do the same.
Should you have any questions about this, or anything else, please don't hesitate to let us know.
John K. Ritter, CFP, CFS
NAPFA Registered Financial Advisor
Ritter Daniher Financial Advisory, LLC