Protect yourself! Advise your clients!
Everyone should have heard about the Equifax data breach at this point, but have you taken any action to protect yourselves and your clients in the face of it?
Equifax has created a website that allows individuals to determine whether their information has been compromised and allows them to sign up for a free year of credit monitoring. Originally, the fine print on this site indicated taking advantage of the free-year credit monitoring service would result in a waiver of legal rights against the company, but I understand the company folded under extreme pressure and removed this language. In any event, please read the fine print since it is apparently changing as this story unfolds.
This website indicated my information had been stolen as well as my husband’s and several colleagues at work. I recommend that you check here to find out whether you need to take further action.
What action should you take? I am already a member of a credit monitoring service, so I did not sign up for the free year with Equifax. Regardless, I prefer to keep my legal rights intact. I may need those rights! You may decide to take advantage of the service. You may decide to bite the bullet and sign up for an independent credit monitoring service, and you may decide to remain with that service for more than a year.
What else can be done? I have read many news articles and opinion pieces on this matter and decided to have my credit reports frozen with TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. You may want to take that action, too, so I have linked those websites for you.
Consider this. If your name, address and social security numbers were compromised, this information is not going to change and the potential financial devastation is not going to resolve itself in the span of one year. Everyone who was compromised will need to be vigilant about checking and credit card accounts indefinitely.
As a real estate lawyer, you may want to advise your clients, as a service to them, about this conundrum and the actions they may be able to take to protect themselves. You may also want to reach out to your real estate agents and lender contacts to ask them to spread the word. Assuming a leadership role in this situation will serve those who rely on you well and will set you apart as a professional who works diligently to protect those who need protection.