With the Equifax Data Breach, you should consider taking a look at measures to protect your credit.

The following article and link from Clark Howard shows how to freeze your credit at all three credit agencies: http://clark.com/personal-finance-credit/credit-freeze-and-thaw-guide/ (see excerpt below)

We have also included information from North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein indicating that North Carolinians can obtain a FREE CREDIT FREEZE: http://www.ncdoj.gov/getdoc/5ec7dfeb-a28e-4b26-92c2-42df5fa0c36e/2-4-3-1-1-Freeze-Your-Credit.aspx (see excerpt below)

Excerpts on both articles are below but please check the web links as well.

Excerpt from the Clark Howard Article
http://clark.com/personal-finance-credit/credit-freeze-and-thaw-guide/

With Equifax’s announcement of its catastrophic security breach, now would be a really good time to consider freezing your credit, if you haven’t already. Credit freezes are one of the most effective ways for consumers to protect themselves against identity theft — and this goes for anyone at any time — regardless of whether you were impacted by this specific breach.

And it’s imperative that you freeze your credit with all three main credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

Below is a quick reference guide on how to put a freeze in place with each bureau, followed by more information on the process, how to thaw your credit and more.

How to freeze your credit with all three agencies

TransUnion
Online: Visit the Credit Freeze page here
https://freeze.transunion.com/sf/securityFreeze/landingPage.jsp
By phone: 1-888-909-8872
By mail: Request your credit freeze by certified mail using this sample letter. Please note the attachments you must include.
Use the following address:
TransUnion LLC
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016

Credit freezes may be done online, by phone (1-888-909-8872) or by certified mail – return receipt requested.
Unfreeze: Do a temporary thaw of your TransUnion credit freeze online or by calling 1-888-909-8872.
Info on freezing a child’s credit with TransUnion can be found here.

Equifax
Online: Visit this page to freeze your credit with Equifax. Important note: With such high traffic to the website, if you can’t get your request processed, just wait about a week and try again.
https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp
By phone: 1-800-685-1111 (NY residents please call 1-800-349-9960)
By mail: Request your credit freeze by certified mail using this sample letter. Please note the attachments you must include.
Use the following address:
Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348

Credit freezes may be done online or by certified mail – return receipt requested.
Unfreeze: Do a temporary thaw of your Equifax credit freeze by snail mail, online or by calling 1-800-685-1111 (N.Y. residents dial 1-800-349-9960).

Experian
Online: Visit the Credit Freeze page here
https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html
By phone: 1-888-EXPERIAN (1-888-397-3742). When calling, press 2 and then follow prompts for security freeze.
By mail: Request your credit freeze by certified mail using this sample letter. Please note the attachments you must include.
Use the following address:
Experian Security Freeze
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013

Credit freezes may be done online; by certified mail – return receipt requested; or by calling 1-888-EXPERIAN (1-888-397-3742). When calling, press 2 then follow prompts for security freeze.
Unfreeze: Do a temporary thaw of your Experian credit freeze online or by calling 1-888-397-3742.

What exactly is a credit freeze?

A credit freeze allows you to seal your credit reports and use a personal identification number (PIN) that only you know and can use to temporarily “thaw” your credit when legitimate applications for credit and services need to be processed. The added layer of security means that thieves can’t establish new credit in your name even if they are able to obtain your personal information.

Freezing your credit files has no impact whatsoever on your existing lines of credit, such as credit cards. You can continue to use them as you regularly would even when your credit is frozen.

Freezes have been available for free to victims of identity theft for some years, but recently all three of the major credit bureaus adopted new rules that now allow non-victims to have access to credit freezes as well for a small fee. In addition, most states and Puerto Rico have adopted laws establishing credit freezes for residents of their state.

Residents of various states may also freeze the credit reports of their minor children. Visit the National Conference of State Legislatures to see what the law is in your state.

The cost ranges from about $3 to $10 per person per bureau to freeze a credit report; a couple of states have higher fees. (North Carolina is free)

*When you do a credit freeze, it is imperative that you freeze your credit with all three bureaus.*

When shouldn’t you freeze your credit?

If your credit reports are accessed often for work or because you create new accounts with various financial institutions on a regular basis, it is not recommended that you freeze your accounts. The costs to regularly “thaw” your reports would tend to be excessive.

How/when to thaw your credit

The cost to “thaw” your reports for one creditor — or for a specific period of time — ranges from free to $10.

Four states remove your credit freeze automatically after seven years. These states are Kentucky, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and South Dakota.

In most states, your credit freeze remains permanently on your files until you request removal. But not so in the states listed above, according to the Consumers Union’s guide to security freeze protection.

Excerpt from the NC Attorney General’s Office
http://www.ncdoj.gov/getdoc/5ec7dfeb-a28e-4b26-92c2-42df5fa0c36e/2-4-3-1-1-Freeze-Your-Credit.aspx

FREEZE YOUR CREDIT
What Is a Security Freeze?

A “security freeze” is a consumer right provided by North Carolina law, enacted as part of the Identity Theft Protection Act of 2005. Placing a security freeze on your credit reports blocks access to your credit unless you have given your permission. This can prevent an identity thief from opening a new account or getting credit in your name.

North Carolina consumers can get a free security freeze online under NC law. Identity theft victims who have filed a police report, their spouses, and consumers over the age of 62 can also get free security freezes by mail or phone.

A security freeze, also known as a credit or a file freeze, can be lifted (or “thawed”) temporarily when you are applying for credit, or removed permanently.

Under a new North Carolina law, parents and guardians can shield their children’s credit report with a special Protected Consumer security freeze. These freezes can also be used to safeguard incapacitated adults.

How a Security Freeze Works

Once you’ve placed a security freeze on your credit, a creditor who asks to see your file will see a message that your file is frozen.  The creditor will not see your credit score, and may treat your application as incomplete but not rejected.

Government agencies collecting child support payments or taxes and your existing creditors or collection agencies acting on their behalf can continue to access your credit despite the freeze.

Other creditors may also use your information to offer you pre-approved credit.  You can stop most credit offers by calling (888) 5-OPT-OUT or visiting www.optoutprescreen.com.

You will still be able to get a free copy of your credit report annually from each credit bureau.

There apparently is a 4th credit agency, Innovis.
https://www.innovis.com/personal/securityFreeze
Innovis Security Freeze Options
You can request a Security Freeze or manage an existing Security Freeze:
Online: Submit the Security Freeze Request Online form.
Phone: 1-800-540-2505
Mail: Complete the Security Freeze Request by Mail form.
Walk in: 875 Greentree Road, 8 Parkway Center, Pittsburgh, PA 15220

A Security Freeze will be placed on your Innovis Credit Report after your request has been received and your identity has been verified. You will receive a confirmation letter by mail that contains a 10-digit Security Freeze Confirmation Number. You can request a replacement Security Freeze Confirmation Number or a lift pin online, by phone, or by mail.

As Hurricane Irma moves towards the US, we encourage you to begin to prepare this week. We have attached some documents to our website that are excellent resources as you do so. TriSure will be there for you if Irma comes our way.

Your best defense against natural disasters is to be prepared and informed. By using the checklists and tips below, your family and your business will be better prepared if a hurricane strikes.

Prepare Your Business

Visit www.ready.gov/business for program management, planning, implementation, testing and exercises, and program improvement ideas.

Prepare at Home

Flooding

**Your homeowner’s insurance does not cover floods. Flooding can happen anywhere at any time, so make sure you have a flood policy in place. Typically, there is a 30-day waiting period from date of purchase before your flood policy goes into effect. Contact us if you are interested in a flood quote.**

TriSure participates in the Back To School With Pride Backpack Project to get Triangle kids ready for school!

TriSure employees provided 31 new backpacks full of supplies for students in need, preparing for school this fall. As we have done in previous years, we were pleased to help with the “Back to School With Pride Project” sponsored by the Friends of the Wake County Guardian ad Litem Program.

TriSure was glad to participate this year in BackPack Buddies! The food and funds benefit Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s child hunger programs.

Inter-Faith Food Shuttle is feeding children at risk of hunger right now, and nurturing long-term solutions that provide access to fresh, healthy food.

Last week was the official start to our Hurricane Season with the NOAA predicting a 45% chance of an above-normal season.    Forecasters predict a 70 percent likelihood of 11 to 17 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 5 to 9 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 2 to 4 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher). An average season produces 12 named storms of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.

And a bit like last year when we saw Hurricane Alex in January 2016, 2017 has started with Tropical Storm Arlene back in April.  And most folks weren’t even aware of that one. Let’s hope that this season is as unassuming!

But if not, let’s make sure you are prepared.  Here is a great link to Ready.gov, with lots of information to peruse as you prepare, from general knowledge about hurricanes to preparing a plan for you and your neighbors. https://www.ready.gov/hurricane-toolkit.

And in the event of a storm, TriSure will be ready to assist you.  Our staff will help you get your claim reported promptly and handled as quickly as possible.  And while you can always call us at 919-469-2473 to get your claim in process, here is a list of numbers for our insurance partners should you prefer.

Storm Catastrophe Reporting Contacts

Home Security Systems used to be considered a luxury or an expensive, intrusive decision that required hard wiring your home.

Now many systems are completely wireless and competition has driven the average costs to what could be a more affordable level.

And, all of our Homeowner Insurance Partners provide a discount on your Home Owners policy if you have a monitored system.  In many cases the discount can offset quite a bit of the monitoring costs.  Take a look at the Top 10 Recommended Systems for 2017 from Consumersadvocate.org.

OK so see where you are on your chore list.  Put the snow shovel away, make sure your mower has a sharp blade and get ready for pollen season….And don’t forget some TLC for your home.  Here are some more good articles on preparing your home for spring!  The folks at Freshhome.com have some quick tips for around the house.

 

HGTV has some great information on maintenance ideas that are good any time of the year.