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.