The more I study the subjects of computer networks, the Internet, and the collection and dissemination of sensitive personal information by governments and businesses, the more I am convinced I am not being overly-dramatic by using the word “apocalypse” to describe the situation.
Truly, an epic disaster is upon us, and unless people start taking the situation seriously, there is not much relief in sight. The disaster has been building for many years, with the recent catastrophe that got most people’s attention for the first time being the great Equifax Hack of September, 2017.
When I first wrote about the Equifax Hack for The Norman Transcript (Take action, the Equifax hack may be “the big one,” Sept. 17, 2017), I already knew the situation was bad. The cavalier ways in which data brokers ignore basic information safety rules, store our private personal, medical and financial data and then sell it to whoever can pay are well known to security professionals. As I delved deeper into the situation, though, I realized it was much worse than I thought, prompting me to write a second column, “Equifax hack update: there’s more to do,” Oct 15, 2017.
I then took on the intimidating task of learning as many effective, practical ways that everyday folks can protect themselves as possible to against those who seek to plunder and exploit our personal information.
After two weeks of turning the Internet upside down to see what would fall out, I assembled a list of 16 companies to contact, both to find out what private information is already being exchanged, and to hopefully slow down the advancing hordes of Internet criminals who seek to join the global information exploitation profit party in a less than legal way.
It is that list of 16 companies that I share with you today. It is not a step-by-step how-to list of instructions, nor does it contain all that I know; newspaper space does not allow for such a treatise. People hire me to do this sort of work for them; it is difficult, painstaking and time-consuming work. This list of 16 should point you in the right direction, though, should you decide to take protective action yourself. Among numerous other sources, I used information from Consumer Reports and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse to assemble this list. So, without further ado, here’s the list.
Credit Bureau freezes. (1) Equifax. www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp Also, free credit monitoring at https://trustedidpremier.com/eligibility/eligibility.html (2) TransUnion. Forces you to create account, and pay $10 with a credit card. freeze.transunion.com/sf/securityFreeze/landingPage.jsp (3) Experian. Costs $10. www.experian.com/freeze/center.html (4) Innovis. https://www.innovis.com/personal/securityFreeze.
Consumer Bureau reports and freezes. Some of these companies are subject to the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), rather than the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Some answer to both. Not all of these companies will have a report on you, but you do want to check anyway for suspicious activity.
(5) Chexsystems. www.chexsystems.com. Request FACTA Report. Request Consumer Score. Place Security Freeze. (6) Certegy. https://www.askcertegy.com/FACT.jsp Request FACTA Report. (7) Early Warning Services. https://www.earlywarning.com. Request Consumer Report. Subject to FCRA. (8) First Data Telecheck. Request Telecheck File Report. https://www.firstdata.com/telecheck (9) Cross Check. By mail, or online, they call it “Request for Free Credit Report.” www.cross-check.com.
(10) MIB Group. Request MIB Consumer File. http://www.mib.com (11) Milliman IntelliScript. Request a Prescription Report (prescriptions/medical). http://www.rxhistories.com (12) ExamOne/Quest Diagnostics. Phone requests only. Call 1-844-225-8047, request ExamOne ScriptCheck Prescription History Report. (13) LexisNexis. Request (a) Fact Act Disclosure and (b) Full File Disclosure. https://personalreports.lexisnexis.com
(14) Verisk. Request A-Plus Loss History Report. Requests by phone only. 1-800-627-3487.
(15) National Consumer Telecom & Utilities Exchange (NCTUE, “housed and managed by” Equifax). Request (a) Disclosure Report at http://www.nctue.com/consumers and (b) Place security freeze on Disclosure Reports from NCTUE Data Exchange, at https://www.exchangeservicecenter.com/Freeze (16) LexisNexis Accurint Individual Access Program. Request (a) Accurint Comprehensive Report and (b) Accurint for Collections — Contact and Locate Comprehensive Report at https://www.lexisnexis.com/privacy.
Finally, although nobody else seemed to squawk about it, MIB Group was pretty peeved about how they were portrayed in my previous column on this subject. After much consultation, upon advice from counsel, and to preserve my comparatively shallow pockets, I agreed to include a statement in a future column. As always, I urge you to view the evidence for yourself and reach your own conclusions. Here’s the statement.
“I am informed by MIB Group (Medical Information Bureau) that in my October 15 column, “Equifax Hack Update: There’s More to Do,” I may have made statements that are incorrect. That column can be downloaded at http://www.normantranscript.com/opinion/columns/equifax-hack-update-there-s-more-to-do/article_fcb99451-6c42-5287-9055-3cf536b2f789.html.
My statements about MIB Group were prompted by an article in Consumer Reports dated October 13, 2017, regarding the Equifax breach. That CR article, which also mentions MIB Group, can be downloaded at https://www.consumerreports.org/equifax/a-freeze-wont-help-with-all-equifax-breach-threats/.
In any event, dear readers, please disregard anything in my October 15 column which related to MIB Group (Medical Information Bureau). I apologize for any errors and any misunderstanding.”