Your Credit Score
In January, security experts warned that two security flaws, called Meltdown and Spectre, affect nearly all our computers’ microprocessors, the digital brains of every computer. These security flaws are serious and scary, because they allow hackers to lift passwords, photos, documents and other data from smartphones, personal computers, and the cloud computing services that many businesses rely on.
Some of the world’s largest tech companies are working to fix these problems, but the problems may not be completely fixable. The problem lies with the way microprocessors have been built during the last ten years.
To protect yourself from a digital attack that goes after your personal information like your identity and/or your credit information, one of the best things you can do is to keep your computer software up to date, including the operating system and all the applications (apps)–especially web browsers and antivirus software. Software updates, sometimes called patches, should be downloaded and executed, because this is how software companies provide fixes to address any new security threats.
You can also consider installing an ad blocker on your web browser. Even legitimate websites do not have control over the ads that appear on their sites, and these ads can sometimes contain viruses that attack our computers.
If you haven’t checked your credit or taken precautions to protect your credit, now’s the time. If these intruders can access your computer, passwords and data, they will try to steal your money.
The Better Business Bureau says that under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you can receive one free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Call 877-322-8228 or go to www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
It’s important to know that www.AnnualCreditReport.com is the ONLY authorized source for free annual credit reports under federal law. Please note: AnnualCreditReport.com will not approach you via email, telemarketing, or through direct mail solicitations. They do not advertise, so if you’re interested in requesting a free report, you must go directly to their website instead of clicking on links that promise to take you there. The internet is full of misleading ads, spyware, and false websites, and clicking on anything free can quickly fill your computer with unwanted viruses.
The AnnualCreditReport.com website not only provides access to your credit report, it also has some great information on how to protect yourself from identity theft. The first step is to know what to look for:
Credit card charges you don't recognize
Calls or letters about things you didn't buy
Bills you don’t recognize
New credit cards or statements for accounts you didn't open
Information on your credit reports you don't recognize, such as new accounts
If you think you’re the victim of identity theft, you should immediately place an initial fraud alert on your file. You can do this online at:
Equifax - www.equifax.com/CreditReportAssistance
Experian - www.experian.com/fraud
TransUnion - www.transunion.com/fraud
Experts recommend that you contact the security or fraud departments of each company where an account was opened. Follow up in writing with each company where debt was established in your name, and keep copies of the correspondence. Always ask for verification about disputed accounts and close all accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
It’s very important to complete a crime report with local law enforcement and report identity theft to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Your report helps us and other law enforcement officials across the country investigate identity thefts. Learn more by visiting https://help.consumerfinance.gov/app/creditreporting/ask.
Remember, anyone can have their identity stolen; the experience can be intrusive and disturbing. To prevent this, keep a close eye on your credit.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.