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‘The Dreaded Letter’

If you haven’t yet, you will probably receive a letter from your bank, insurance company, investment firms, health providers and even government entities telling you that one of their vendors has used the software “MOVEit.” MOVEit is software that manages file transfers over the internet between business partners and customers using various technologies. It was promoted as a secure transfer software and has been used by companies since 2012.

On May 31, 2023, Ipswitch/Progress Software announced a critical vulnerability in MOVEit and began to release patches to fix the problem. That’s great, except the cat is already out of the bag. (“The cat” is your personal data.)

So, what can you do? Many companies have taken a proactive stance and sent letters to their customers offering one or two years of free credit monitoring at one of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion or Experian. If you haven’t received a letter yet or are concerned, you may want to freeze your credit, even if you sign up for a monitoring service.

To freeze your credit at the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion), you’ll need to follow these general steps.

Gather Your Information: Before you start, make sure you have all the necessary information on hand, including your Social Security number, date of birth, current address, and any previous addresses from the past few years.

Contact Each Bureau: You’ll need to contact each of the three credit bureaus individually to place a freeze. Here’s how:

Provide Information: Follow the prompts provided by each bureau and provide the required information, including your personal details, to verify your identity.

Create a PIN: As part of the process, you’ll need to create a Personal Identification Number (PIN) or password. This PIN will be required if you ever want to temporarily lift or remove the freeze.

Fees: Since September 2018, federal laws do not allow fees on credit freezing.

Confirmation: Once you’ve completed the process, each bureau will provide you with a confirmation or reference number. Be sure to keep this information in a safe place.

Lifting the Freeze: If you need to temporarily lift the freeze (e.g., when applying for credit), you’ll need to use the PIN you created. The process for lifting the freeze is also done individually with each bureau.

Unfreezing Permanently: If you decide to permanently remove the freeze, you can contact the bureaus using the same contact methods as before.

Remember that freezing your credit can provide strong protection against unauthorized access, but it can also make certain processes, such as applying for new credit, a bit more cumbersome for you as well. Always keep your PIN or password secure, and be cautious when sharing your information.

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