The Equifax Cyber Security Attack

The Equifax Cyber Security Attack
Posted: Sep 15, 2017
Categories: Fraud
Comments: 0

What Credit Unions Need to Tell Employees and Members

Another day, another breach – the Equifax Cyber Attack.  But wait, this is no ordinary breach that can be fixed by issuing a new card and blocking the card that was compromised. No, this is a whale of a tale of a breach.  The Mother of all breaches.  This was credit bureau data including consumer social security numbers, addresses, accounts, birth dates, and maybe driver’s license information, etc.  Are you one of the 143M consumers who may be affected by the cyber attack?

Don’t think you have an Equifax file? Think back to any time you have answered an “out of wallet” question online to self-identify yourself.  All those questions about “what street did you live on in 1985” or “what type of car did you have a loan on in 2004” are out of wallet questions that most likely came from Equifax, TransUnion or Experian. 

The Equifax Cyber Security Attack has exposed data that nearly exceeds the TJX, Target and Home Depot breaches combined. Credit unions need to take action and notify their members of the fraud monitoring protections used to protect accounts and educate their members on how they can help fight fraud.  National issuers have begun communicating with cardholders and create good will with customers by being proactive.


If you haven’t already, prepare member facing staff on how to talk to members who are concerned about the safety of their accounts and how they can help protect themselves.

  1. Stress the importance of gathering up-to-date contact information from your members so you can contact them in the event of suspicious account activity – cell phone, email and home phone.
  2. Urge your members to open and review their monthly statements, and what to do if they identify fraudulent transactions.
  3. Assure your members you have fraud monitoring protection policies in place including member verification procedures. 
  4. Remind your members that your Visa/MasterCard products offer Zero Liability Protection. If your card products offer Identity Theft Protection, now is a good time to remind your members of this valuable benefit.  If your card products don’t offer this feature, you may want to add it.
  5. Beware of phishing emails.
  6. Share the five steps of what to do if they are worried now.
  7. Talk about freezing credit files. Tell members how this may affect future loan applications they chose to make and to be prepared to unfreeze their file. 

Credit union employees should go through the experience of freezing and unfreezing their personal credit files so they can be prepared to talk members through the process as well.  Internally, credit unions need to talk to Underwriting Teams about how credit freezes may affect future underwriting of new loans and how to talk to members about removing the freeze.

Our advice to members is to diligently review their credit file for unauthorized activity and act quickly to resolve it. ~ Phil Cooper, Chief Lending Officer, Michigan Schools & Government Credit Union.

This story isn’t going away anytime soon, so as we move farther into 4th quarter, the heaviest spend period of the year, now is the time to talk about it, and continue to promote safety and security messages to your members.

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Stephanie  Hainje

Stephanie HainjeStephanie Hainje

Trellance's Director of Education, Stephanie Hainje is an experienced card industry professional with credit and debit card program management from her previous career at Purdue Federal Credit Union, a leading affinity credit card issuer and top 100 Visa USA issuer.

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