Equifax versus Experian: understanding the difference and your credit future

Jennifer Priddy, assistant superintendent of finance and operations, shares the following to help answer employees’ questions following the recently-reported nationwide data breach at Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit reporting agencies.

Equifax Data Breach

We have received many questions regarding the recent Equifax data breach and how our employees may or may not be better protected given the district’s April 12, 2016 data breach.

Olympia School District’s April 2016 Data Breach

As a reminder, OSD employees who received a 2015 W-2, had their name, address, salary information and social security number released in a phishing scam. (Employee birth date, spousal and bank information was not released).

In response, the district provided the Experian ProtectMyID Elite with ExtendCare product for employees whose data was included in the data breach. (See summary below). In April 2016 all impacted employees were mailed an activation code in order to enroll in Experian credit monitoring; employees had until July 31, 2016 to enroll. Enrollment for active monitoring continues for two years from the date of activation. After the two years of active credit monitoring ends, some Experian benefits continue (look for the ExtendCARE description below).

Importantly, OSD employee enrollment in active credit monitoring expires for impacted employees in spring or early summer 2018, depending on the date that an employee originally enrolled in the credit monitoring service.

Equifax Data Breach

Equifax and Experian are two different companies. Therefore, the fact that you enrolled with Experian for credit monitoring does not mean that your data has been breached again. However, Equifax is one of three major credit monitoring companies; therefore, your financial data may be held by Equifax, and more than 140 million customers are part of the Equifax breach. Credit card numbers for 209,000 people were stolen.

If you have been informed that your data was included in the Equifax breach, and you have already enrolled in Experian credit monitoring, check your enrollment date in the Experian system so that you know what date in 2018 your Experian credit monitoring expires. Be mindful of your credit after your active monitoring expires, as you have extended benefits to assist you in untangling credit items that are not your responsibility.

If you are offered free credit monitoring services from Equifax, please seriously consider enrolling in this service. Caution: To avoid any phone, text or email scams related to the Equifax breach, it is best to contact Equifax directly rather than responding to someone who contacts you via phone, email or text. The Federal Trade Commission, which is investigating the Equifax breach, issued a warning to consumers recently by posting a fraud alert on its website urging people to beware of Equifax-related scams. If you want to learn more about the Equifax breach, you may call Equifax directly at 1-866-447-7559. In addition, the Experian website has a helpful description of Experian vs. Equifax and next steps if your data is stolen.

Assuming you enrolled in Experian, you may only have about eight months remaining of active credit monitoring. Extending active credit monitoring for even a few months via an Equifax offer may be very beneficial. At this writing, it is unknown if Equifax will offer 1 year, 2 years, or even no credit monitoring. The point is, do not be complacent about more services due to your enrollment in Experian.

The Federal Trade Commission has a helpful website and link to identify if you are part of the Equifax data breach.

Summary of ProtectMyID Elite

Your ProtectMyID Elite membership continues for two years from the date of enrollment. The service provides:

  • Free copy of your Experian credit report.
  • Surveillance Alerts for:
    • Daily 3 Bureau Credit Monitoring: Alerts of key changes and suspicious activity found on your Experian, Equifax® and TransUnion® credit reports.
    • Internet Scan: Alerts if your personal information is located on sites where compromised data is found, traded or sold.
    • Change of Address: Alerts of any changes in your mailing address.
  • $1 Million Identity Theft (per person) Insurance: Covers certain costs including lost wages, private investigator fees and unauthorized electronic fund transfers that occur as a result of this incident.
  • Lost Wallet Protection: If you misplace or have your wallet stolen, an agent will help you cancel your credit, debit and medical insurance cards.
  • Identity Theft Resolution with ProtectMyID ExtendCARE: The service provides toll-free access to U.S.-based customer care and an Identity Theft Resolution agent who is trained to walk you through the process of fraud resolution if you have any issues with identity theft or fraud on your credit accounts. They will investigate each incident and can help with contacting credit grantors to dispute charges and close accounts including credit, debit and medical insurance cards; assist with freezing credit files; and contact government agencies.
    • It is recognized that identity theft can happen months and even years after a data breach. To offer added protection, you will receive ExtendCARE, which provides you with the same high-level of Fraud Resolution support even after your ProtectMyID membership has expired.

Safety Tip of the Week: Flu Season Safety

This week, Wendy Couture, the district’s safety and risk reduction manager, shares information about flu season safety.

Road sign stating "Flu Season Ahead" against backdrop of dark gray storm clouds

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

*It is important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

Flu Complications

Most people who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but
some people will develop complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of the flu,
some of which can be life-threatening.

Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections are examples of complications from the
flu. In addition, it can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with
asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu.

People at High Risk from Flu

Anyone can get the flu (even healthy people), and serious problems related to the flu
can happen at any age, but some people are at high risk of developing serious flu-
related complications if they get sick. According to the CDC this includes people 65
years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as
asthma, diabetes or heart disease), pregnant women and young children.

What are the emergency warning signs of flu sickness?

In children

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash

In adults

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough

The CDC recommends getting the flu vaccine as soon after the vaccines become
available or by the end of October if possible. They still encourage getting a vaccine in
January or later since the flu season typically peaks in January or later and it takes
about 2 weeks for the antibodies to develop in the body to provide protection. Therefore,
getting the vaccine early helps with prevention.

Stop the spread of germs that make you and others sick by following some simple preventative actions:

  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
  • If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine).
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

For more information about seasonal flu, visit the CDC website.

Attendance matters!

21740943_1613620872032506_3123462478455146253_oThe Olympia School District joins the State of Washington and the nation in recognizing September as Attendance Awareness Month.

Every school day counts and regular attendance is crucial to student success. Students who miss just 18 days a year, or two days per month are considered chronically absent. Chronically absent students are more likely to fall behind in reading and math and less likely to graduate from high school. Developing good attendance habits early sets the stage for success in high school, college and beyond.

Our schools and staff are committed to ensure all students fully benefit from their education by attending school regularly. We ask our parents, families and the entire community to join us and help our students be successful by making every school day count.

Awareness Month was started in 2013 by AttendanceWorks.org, a national and state initiative that promotes better policy and practice around school attendance.

Safety Tip of the Week: Understanding air quality and your health

This week, Wendy Couture, the district’s safety and risk reduction manager, shares information about air quality, especially in light of the recent fires in Washington and related air quality concerns.

Screen Shot 2017-09-15 at 4.33.12 PM copy

Some days, the air is clear and smells fresh and clean. Clean air is air that has no harmful levels of pollutants (such as dirt and chemicals). However, on a hot day with no wind, the air can feel heavy and may have a bad smell. Sometimes, the air can even make your chest feel tight or make you cough. When too much dirt or too many pollutants get into the air, the air is dirty or smoky. Recently there have been many fires contributing to air quality concerns here and across the state.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) is a number used by government agencies to communicate how clean or polluted the air is and what associated health effects might be a concern. To make it easier to understand, the AQI is divided into six categories, each noted with a different color.

You can protect your health in three ways when the air is polluted:

  1. Check the AQI at AIRNow. The AQI uses color-coded maps and health messages to tell you how clean or polluted the air is. The higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution and the greater the health concern. For example, green means the air is clean. Red means the air is unhealthy. You may hear about the AQI on TV or radio during weather forecasts, or you might see it on the weather page in the local newspaper. Download the AirNow App to get the AQI on your smartphone.
  2. If you’re outside when you know the air is polluted, you can protect your health by taking it easy. It’s important to exercise and be active to maintain good health. But when the air is polluted, you can reduce the time you spend exercising, walk instead of run, take frequent breaks, or go outside at another time or on another day when the air is cleaner.
  3. If you notice any symptoms when you’re outside like coughing, pain when you take a deep breath, chest tightness or wheezing, stop your activity and tell an adult. This is especially important if you have asthma.

Flag lowerings: Stay informed

Flag at half-staff in front of Knox Administrative CenterThe Olympia School District recognizes all flag lowerings directed by Gov. Jay Inslee. Flags are lowered to half-staff around the district, including all schools and support facilities, for a variety of observances/memorials.

A news article sharing the reason for the flag lowering is posted on the district and all school websites on the date of the flag lowering. The information is also shared on the Olympia School District social media pages. Families routinely ask why the flags are lowered to half-staff, and you can direct them to both the district website or social media.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest in district communication.

Don’t delay: September 29 is deadline for Open Enrollment

Benefit Open Enrollment continues through September 29. Be sure to sign on to the online benefit resource portal UPoint on the school district website. The Washington Education Association (WEA) is offering Aetna and UnitedHealthcare medical plans, and there will be one Kaiser Permanente medical plan. Open Enrollment information is posted on the Benefits Web page.

Need help signing up for benefits?

The Payroll department is hosting open labs with staff onsite to assist you with researching and signing up for your benefits. You do not need to preregister for these sessions. Open Labs will take place at the Knox Administrative Center:

  • September 20: 4-6 p.m. Room 308
  • September 28 & 29: 3-6 p.m. Room 308

New process for submitting OEA clock hour transcripts

​Beginning this 2017-18 school year, the ESD is no longer automatically printing clock hour transcripts and submitting to Human Resources.  If you have clock hours that have been paid for and need to be reported to Human Resources, please follow the instructions below to request and purchase an official transcript and ESD will email one to you:
Go to www.esd113.org. Click Classes and Workshops, then Transcripts. Follow the links to Enroll and purchase the transcript. Please call Tiffany Harmon at ESD 113 if you have any questions or concerns.  She can be reached at 360-464-6700.