FTC:The Equifax Data Breach: What to Do

FTC: The Equifax Data Breach: What to Do


If you have a credit report, there’s a good chance that you’re one of the 143 million American consumers whose sensitive personal information was exposed in a data breach at Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit reporting agencies.

Here are the facts, according to Equifax. The breach lasted from mid-May through July. The hackers accessed people’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. They also stole credit card numbers for about 209,000 people and dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 people. And they grabbed personal information of people in the UK and Canada too.

There are steps to take to help protect your information from being misused. Visit Equifax’s website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.

  • Find out if your information was exposed. Click on the “Potential Impact” tab and enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number. Your Social Security number is sensitive information, so make sure you’re on a secure computer and an encrypted network connection anytime you enter it. The site will tell you if you’ve been affected by this breach.
  • Whether or not your information was exposed, U.S. consumers can get a year of free credit monitoring and other services. The site will give you a date when you can come back to enroll. Write down the date and come back to the site and click “Enroll” on that date. You have until November 21, 2017, to enroll.
  • You also can access frequently asked questions at the site.

Here are some other steps to take to help protect yourself after a data breach:

  • Check your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — for free — by visiting annualcreditreport.com. Accounts or activity that you don’t recognize could indicate identity theft. Visit IdentityTheft.gov to find out what to do.
  • Consider placing a credit freeze on your files. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. Keep in mind that a credit freeze won’t prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts.
  • Monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts closely for charges you don’t recognize.
  • If you decide against a credit freeze, consider placing a fraud alert on your files. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and that they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name really is you.
  • File your taxes early — as soon as you have the tax information you need before a scammer can. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. Respond right away to letters from the IRS.

Visit Identitytheft.gov/databreach to learn more about protecting yourself after a data breach.


 What To Do After a Data Breach
Did you get a notice that says your personal information was exposed in a data breach? Visit IdentityTheft.gov/databreach to learn what you can do to protect your identity.

September 15 to October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month

September 15 to October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month marks an opportunity for you to help your community.

Help spread the word about reporting fraud, talking about scams, and the resources available to everyone to help stop it.

For tools and tips in Spanish, visit:

CA Department of Business Oversight’s (DBO) Protect Yourself From Fraud Booklet in Spanish

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) consumer education information in Spanish, order publications

Financial Planning Days coming to cities near you!

Financial Planning Days coming to cities near you!


Costa Mesa, CA
Orange County Financial Planning Day
October 14, 2017

San Rafael, CA
Marin Financial Planning Day
November 4, 2017

Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles Financial Planning Day
October 28, 2017

Rosemead, CA
Rosemead Financial Planning Day
October 14, 2017

San Francisco, CA
San Francisco Financial Planning Day
October 28, 2017

West Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Financial Planning Day
October 21, 2017

Find details including location and time and how to register at http://financialplanningdays.org/find-an-event


CFPB SAVING TAX TIME DEMONSTRATION APPLICATION – Interested Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Programs

Interested Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Programs

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will provide educational materials,
training, and technical assistance to approximately 50 Volunteer Income Tax
Assistance (VITA) programs across the country that are committed to promoting
saving during the 2018 tax season. This is not an opportunity for a grant, contract,
sub-contract, or funding. This is an opportunity to receive consumer education
materials, training for staff and volunteers, and technical assistance to integrate
savings promotion into their tax campaigns.


10 Scams Targeting Bank Customers

10 Scams Targeting Bank Customers
The basics on how to protect your personal information and your money

En Español https://www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/news/esp/cnsum17/scams.html

The FDIC often hears from bank customers who believe they may be the victims of financial fraud or theft, and our staff members provide information on where and how to report suspicious activity. To help further, FDIC Consumer News includes crime prevention tips in practically every issue. As part of that coverage, we feature here a list of 10 scams that you should be aware of, plus key defenses to remember.
1.Government “imposter” frauds: These schemes often start with a phone call, a letter, an email, a text message or a fax supposedly from a government agency, requiring an upfront payment or personal financial information, such as Social Security or bank account numbers.

“They might tell you that you owe taxes or fines or that you have an unpaid debt. They might even threaten you with a lawsuit or arrest if you don’t pay,” said Michael Benardo, manager of the FDIC’s Cyber Fraud and Financial Crimes Section. “Remember that if you provide personal information it can be used to commit fraud or be sold to identity thieves. Also, federal government agencies won’t ask you to send money for prizes or unpaid loans, and they won’t ask you to wire money to pay for anything.”
2.Debt collection scams: Be on the lookout for fraudsters posing as debt collectors or law enforcement officials attempting to collect a debt that you don’t really owe. Red flags include a caller who won’t provide written proof of the debt you supposedly owe or who threatens you with arrest or violence for not paying.
3.Fraudulent job offers: Criminals pose online or in classified advertisements as employers or recruiters offering enticing opportunities, such as working from home. But if you’re required to pay money in advance to “help secure the job” or you must provide a great deal of personal financial information for a “background check,” those are red flags of a potential fraud.

Another variation on this scam involves fake offers of part-time jobs as “mystery shoppers,” who are people paid to visit retail locations and then submit confidential reports about the experience. In an example of the fraudulent version, your job might be to receive a $500 check, go “undercover” to your bank, deposit the check into your account there, and then report back about the service provided. But you also would be instructed to immediately wire your new “employer” $500 out of your bank account to cover the check you just deposited. Days later, the bank will inform you that the check you deposited is counterfeit and you just lost $500 to thieves. One warning sign of this type of scam is that the potential employer requires you to have a bank account.
4.“Phishing” emails: Scam artists send emails pretending to be from banks, popular merchants or other known entities, and they ask for personal information such as bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and other valuable details. The emails usually look legitimate because they include graphics copied from authentic websites and messages that appear valid.

“We have also seen emails with links to fake websites that are exact copies of real websites for FDIC-insured banks, except the web addresses are slightly different than the real ones,” said Doreen Eberley, director of the FDIC’s Division of Risk Management Supervision, which is in charge of the agency’s policies and programs related to financial crimes. “These sites are used to trick people into giving up valuable personal information that can be used to commit identity theft.”
5.Mortgage foreclosure rescue scams: Today, many homeowners who are struggling financially and risk losing their homes may be vulnerable to false promises to refinance a mortgage under better terms or rates. But borrowers should always be on the lookout for scammers who falsely claim to be lenders, loan servicers, financial counselors, mortgage consultants, loan brokers or representatives of government agencies who can help avoid a mortgage foreclosure and offer a great deal at the same time. These criminals will present homeowners with what sounds like the life-saving offer they need. Instead, the homeowner is required to pay significant upfront fees or, even worse, tricked into signing documents that, in the fine print, transfer the ownership of the property to the criminal involved. Common warning signs of fraudulent mortgage assistance offers include a “guarantee” that foreclosure will be avoided and pressure to act fast.
6.Lottery scams: You might be told you won a lottery (typically one that you never entered) and asked to first send money to the “lottery company” to cover certain taxes and fees. Similar examples involve bogus prize winnings and sweepstakes. “In one example, a scammer sent a letter to people using falsified FBI and FDIC letterhead telling them they won a popular, well-known lottery but that they needed to send money by wire transfer to a lottery ‘official’ in order to secure the winnings,” Benardo said. “The ‘official’ was really a crook hoping to trick people into sending money.”
7.Elder frauds: Thieves sometimes target older adults to try to cheat them out of some of their life savings. For example, telemarketing scams may involve sales of bogus products and services that will never be delivered. Warning signs include unsolicited phone calls asking for a large amount of money before receiving the goods or services, and special offers for senior citizens that seem too good to be true, like an investment “guaranteeing” a very high return. To help seniors and their caregivers avoid financial exploitation, the FDIC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have developed Money Smart for Older Adults, a curriculum with information and resources (see News Briefs).
8.Overpayment scams: This popular scam starts when a stranger sends a consumer or a business a check for something, such as an item being sold on the internet, but the check is for far more than the agreed-upon sales price. The scammer then tells the consumer to deposit the check and wire the difference to someone else who is supposedly owed money by the same check writer. In a few days, the check is discovered to be a counterfeit, and the depositor may be held responsible for any money wired out of the bank account. Victims may end up owing thousands of dollars to the financial institution that wired the money, and sometimes they’ve also sent the merchandise to the fraud artists, too.
9.”Ransomware”: This term refers to malicious software that holds a computer, smartphone or other device hostage by restricting access until a ransom is paid. The most common way ransomware and other malicious software spreads is when someone clicks on an infected email attachment or a link in an email that leads to a contaminated file or website. Malware also can spread across a network of linked computers or be passed around on a contaminated storage device, such as a thumb drive.
10.Jury duty scams: A thief makes phone calls pretending to be a law enforcement official warning innocent people that they failed to appear for jury duty and threating an arrest unless a “fine” is paid immediately. And to pay up, the caller asks for debit account and PIN numbers, allowing the perpetrator to create a fake debit card and drain the account.

What You Can Do: Plus the basics on how to protect your personal information and your money

While we have described many forms of financial scams, the red flags to look out for are often similar. And so are the things you can do to help protect yourself and your money. Here are some basic precautions to consider, especially when engaging in financial transactions with strangers through email, over the phone or on the internet.
Avoid offers that seem “too good to be true.” As Eberley noted: “If someone promises ‘opportunities’ that are free or with surprisingly low costs or high returns, it is probably a scam. Be especially suspicious if someone pressures you into making a quick decision or to keep a transaction a secret.”
No matter how legitimate an offer or request may look or sound, don’t give your personal information, such as bank account information, credit and debit card numbers, Social Security numbers and passwords, to anyone unless you initiate the contact and know the other party is reputable.
Remember that financial institutions will not send you an email or call to ask you to put account numbers, passwords or other sensitive information in your response because they already have this information. To verify the authenticity of an email, independently contact the supposed source by using an email address or telephone number that you know is valid.
Be cautious of unsolicited emails or text messages asking you to open an attachment or click on a link. This is a common way for cybercriminals to distribute malicious software, such as ransomware. Be especially cautious of emails that have typos or other obvious mistakes.
Use reputable anti-virus software that periodically runs on your computer to search for and remove malicious software. Be careful if anyone (even a friend) gives you a thumb drive because it could have undetected malware, such as ransomware, on it. If you still want to use a thumb drive from someone else, use the anti-virus software on your computer to scan the files before opening them.
Don’t cash or deposit any checks, cashier’s checks or money orders from strangers who ask you to wire any of that money back to them or an associate. If the check or money order proves to be a fake, the money you wired out of your account will be difficult to recover.
Be wary of unsolicited offers “guaranteeing” to rescue your home from foreclosure. If you need assistance, contact your loan servicer (the company that collects the monthly payment for your mortgage) to find out if you may qualify for any programs to prevent foreclosure or to modify your loan without having to pay a fee. Also consider consulting with a trained professional at a reputable counseling agency that provides free or low-cost help. Go to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website for a referral to a nearby housing counseling agency approved by HUD or call 1-800-569-4287.
Monitor credit card bills and bank statements for unauthorized purchases, withdrawals or anything else suspicious, and report them to your bank right away.
Periodically review your credit reports for signs of identity theft, such as someone obtaining a credit card or a loan in your name. By law, you are entitled to receive at least one free credit report every 12 months from each of the nation’s three main credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Start at AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228. If you spot a potential problem, call the fraud department at the credit bureau that produced that credit report. If the account turns out to be fraudulent, ask for a “fraud alert” to be placed in your file at all three of the major credit bureaus. The alert tells lenders and other users of credit reports that you have been a victim of fraud and that they should verify any new accounts or changes to accounts in your name.
Contact the FDIC’s Consumer Response Center (CRC) if you have questions about possible scams or you are the victim of a scam experiencing difficulty resolving the issue with a financial institution. The CRC answers inquiries about consumer protection laws and regulations and conducts thorough investigations of complaints about FDIC-supervised institutions. If the situation involves a financial institution for which the FDIC is not the primary federal regulator, CRC staff will refer the matter to the appropriate regulator. Visit our webpage on submitting complaints or call 1-877-ASK-FDIC (1-877-275-3342) Monday – Friday, 8am to 8pm (EST).

Upcoming FDIC Webinar: Tools to Teach Personal Finance Inside and Outside the Classroom

Upcoming FDIC Webinar: Tools to Teach Personal Finance Inside and Outside the Classroom


August 10, 2017
2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time

WebEx Webinar
Registration Closing Date:

August 10, 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time
Interested in learning about tools that can help your students learn about money? They’re FREE and they’re FUN! Join us for a webinar that introduces tools you can use to teach money concepts to youth from Pre-K to Grade 12.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) will introduce the Money Smart for Young People curriculum series during an interactive mini training lesson. We’ll walk through the Teacher Online Resource Center, a one-stop shop to access materials and engaging ideas to capture the attention of your students. You’ll also hear about new approaches to hands-on learning involving saving accounts. Money and finances aren’t just for class! Parents and caregivers can get involved too. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will show you how to navigate the Money As You Grow website. And the National Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Finance® will tell you about their resources and how to join activities and teacher trainings.
Register For This Event Now:

Event Registration

To access the WebEx, use the login Information below:

For First-Time Users – Prior to the meeting, check your system to ensure it is equipped to use WebEx. WebEx Required Download: To access this webinar, participants must have the WebEx Event Manager installed prior to joining. To download the Event Manager, see the instructions on the WebEx Downloads page. If you still cannot enter the meeting, please contact your Internet Provider.

Live WebEx Meeting Net Conference Access Information:

You can join the event by:

Clicking on https://www.mymeetings.com/nc/join.php?i=PWXW5031850&p=7528615&t=c for the presentation.
Dialing 1-800-475-0509 or 1-517-308-9425 and entering participant passcode: 7528615 for the audio.
WebEx Instructions – PDF
If you have questions about the webinar, please send an e-mail to Communityaffairs@fdic.gov.
We look forward to your participation!

The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy (OIEA) and Broker-Dealer Task Force are warning the more than 5 million Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) participants, and investors in other federal government employee retirement plans, that investment scam artists may pretend to be affiliated with a government agency.

The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy (OIEA) and Broker-Dealer Task Force are warning the more than 5 million Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) participants, and investors in other federal government employee retirement plans, that investment scam artists may pretend to be affiliated with a government agency.

Federal government agencies, including the SEC, do not endorse or sponsor any particular securities, issuers, products, services, professional credentials, firms, or individuals.
If someone offers you an investment opportunity and claims any affiliation with the federal government, follow these tips:
• Do not trust any contact information or a website provided by someone contacting you with an investment idea when that person claims to be affiliated with the government, the TSP, or government retirement plans.
• According to the agency that administers the TSP, the TSP will never contact you by email, telephone, or mail asking you to provide sensitive personal information such as your account number, Social Security number, password, or PIN.
• You can confirm that a seller is not affiliated with a government agency by contacting the agency directly or calling the SEC’s toll-free investor assistance line at (800) 732-0330.
• Always be cautious about providing personal information to anyone you do not personally know.
The SEC recently brought an enforcement action against Federal Employee Benefit Counselors (FEBC), a self-described “national consulting group dedicated to educating federal employees,” whose “mission” was purportedly “to help” federal employees “optimize” their benefits. The SEC’s complaint alleges that FEBC and certain of its employees fraudulently induced federal employees to roll over funds from their TSP accounts into privately issued variable annuities. The SEC alleges that the defendants created the false impression that they were in some way affiliated with, or approved by, the federal government and deceived investors about the fees associated with, and the relative attractiveness of, the privately issued annuities. The SEC alleges the defendants obtained personal information from the employees and then sent them reports that misleadingly described the recommended investment option. The defendants allegedly failed to disclose that this “option” involved investing with a third party that had no government affiliation.
In general, fraudsters may try to deceive investors by using the word “federal” or “government” in the name of their company, copying or imitating government emblems or seals, creating fake correspondence that looks like it is from a government agency, or sending email messages that link to an actual government website.
The TSP is a retirement savings plan administered by the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, an independent government agency. The TSP will not contact federal employees about investment opportunities and does not authorize third parties to provide counseling or investment-related services to anyone.
Additional Information
Managing Your Account: Protect Your TSP Account
Investor Alert: Beware of Government Impersonators Targeting Fraud Victims
Investor Alert: Investment Scams Involving Fake Forms 4
Updated Investor Alert: SEC Warns of Government Impersonators
Updated Investor Alert: Beware of Companies Using the SEC Seal
Investor Alert: SEC Warns of Bogus Securities Regulators Soliciting Investors
Report possible securities fraud to the SEC. Ask a question or report a problem concerning your investments, your investment account or a financial professional.
Check out the background, including registration or license status, of anyone recommending or selling an investment through the SEC’s Investment Adviser Public Disclosure (IAPD) database, available on Investor.gov.
Receive Investor Alerts and Bulletins from OIEA by email or RSS feed. Follow OIEA on Twitter @SEC_Investor_Ed. Like OIEA on Facebook at facebook.com/secinvestoreducation.

The Military Consumer Toolkit for Personal Financial Managers and other counselors

The Military Consumer Toolkit for Personal Financial Managers and other counselors

Military life comes with transitions. Each relocation, promotion, and change in duty status brings the need to make money-related decisions. Servicemembers’ financial decisions can have long-term effects on their family life, mission readiness, and security clearance.

Working with the Department of Defense (DoD) and other collaborators, the Federal Trade Commission has created Military Consumer. It gives servicemembers and their families the information to make sound financial decisions.

Helps answer questions like:

Who will handle my finances during a deployment?
What should I know when buying a car?
Can I use my military training to further my career goals?
The tips

Military Consumer’s short, actionable tips are organized into articles in these categories:

Spend: How to control where your money goes
Earn: How to use military experience and benefits to advance your career
Borrow: How to use credit and manage debt
Save & Invest: How to make today’s paychecks work for the future
Protect: How to safeguard money, financial and account information, and reputation
The Toolkit

The Toolkit allows personal financial managers, counselors, command, and others in the military community to share practical financial tips. The toolkit includes one or two presentation slides for every article, each with a suggested script. Use all of them or just the slides on a particular topic. Want to know more? Check out the Military Consumer articles.

All materials from Military Consumer – and from the Federal Trade Commission – are free. There’s no copyright on any of our resources. Cut and paste the tips, slides, and talking points; print and make copies; or order free copies of consumer publications from FTC.gov/bulkorder.

Download the Full Military Consumer Toolkit PowerPoint (7.6 MB)

Using Military Consumer in your programs

Here are a few ideas for reaching servicemembers or their families with these tips:

In meetings

Use the Military Consumer presentation slides for financial readiness lessons to units, at family readiness group meetings, and other gatherings.
Access the tips on your mobile device at Military.Consumer.gov during one-on-one discussions.
Order FTC’s print materials to share at workshops to prepare troops and their families for military lifecycle changes (basic training, deployment, discharge, etc).
Spreading the word

Cut and paste the Military Consumer articles and blog posts to your websites. Use as-is or edit them.
Share tips on social media with servicemembers, spouses, and financial counselors.
Encourage servicemembers to share the information with their peers, commanders, and subordinates.
Share the tips and slides with groups that engage servicemembers – such as Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) or Fleet and Family Support Centers.
Tips for perfecting your presentations

Consider your audience. Are you speaking to young, recently enlisted servicemembers? Spouses? Transitioning personnel? What specific information do they need
Collaborate. Work with groups like Personal Financial Managers, Morale, Welfare, and Recreation offices, or Fleet and Family Support centers.
Avoid jargon: Everyone appreciates plain language. Break down financial terms and military acronyms clearly and plainly.
Engage with questions: Use open-ended questions, such as, “Who in this room has bought a house?” to make the topics personal.
The FTC, the Department of Defense, and our partners welcome your feedback and questions on Military Consumer. Please email your thoughts to MilConsumer@FTC.gov. Thank you for helping us reach the military community with this important information.

Scams and the Military: The Top 10 Most Risky (from the Council of Better Business Bureaus)

Scams and the Military: The Top 10 Most Risky

Military families and veterans have long been recognized as being at increased risk of being targeted by scammers. The steady paychecks and relative youth of active-duty military personnel may make them particularly vulnerable. Our BBB Scam Tracker scam reporting tool gives us up-to-the-minute information on trends in the scam marketplace, including scams that impact those that identify as active duty military, veterans, or military spouses. We touched on military-specific statistics in our 2016 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report. With several more months of reporting data to analyze, we took a fresh look for this edition of Trusted Scout.

Individuals who self-identify as active-duty military personnel, veterans or military spouses represent 8.5% of those who report to BBB Scam Tracker. These individuals may be more susceptible when exposed to a scam, with 17.4% reporting losses compared to 15.7% of non-military individuals. More striking is the median loss of $300, 20% higher than the non-military median loss of $251.

Our 2016 Risk Report introduced our new BBB Risk Index concept, a mathematical formula that assigns a risk rating to different scam types based on the intersection of exposure, susceptibility and monetary loss.

2016 Military Risk Report

By applying this formula to data from military families collected to date, we were able to identify the following scam types as being the top 10 most risky scams for military families:
1.Fake checks
2.Home improvement scams
3.Travel and vacation scams
4.Online purchase scams
5.Debt collection scams
6.Advance fee loan scams
7.Family and friend emergency scams
8.Tech support scams
9.Sweepstakes, lottery and prize scams
10.Tax collection scams

Knowing about the types of scams that are trending and the tactics scammers use is your best protection. To learn more about how to spot and avoid the most risky scam types, visit bbb.org/scamtips.

Assistive Technology and Transportation Loan Guarantee Program

Assistive Technology and Transportation Loan Guarantee Program

Financial Institution Partnership Opportunity with California Department of Rehabilitation

The California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) is seeking to identify financial institutions, including community-based nonprofits authorized to function as a financial institution, that are interested in partnering to implement state-funded Assistive Technology and Transportation Loan Guarantee programs.

The DOR has issued a Request for Information (RFI), which is not a commitment of funding, but will help the DOR develop a contracting process with one or more financial institutions to offer Californians with disabilities low-interest loans for assistive technologies, including modified vehicles. Dedicated funding to guarantee 2 percent loans is held by the State Treasurer’s Office on behalf of the DOR. By responding to this RFI, financial institutions will be added to a distribution list of interested parties.

The last day to submit a response is July 31.

The DOR’s Independent Living Section is part of California’s independent living network, which includes 28 independent living centers and the State Independent Living Council. The DOR administers the program in California and provides technical assistance and financial support for the independent living centers.

For more information, visit the DOR Assistive Technology Program page or contact Ann Bui at (916) 558-5395 or ann.bui@dor.ca.gov.