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.

Tips when planning a school fundraiser

Piggy bank surrounded by pennies

The following are some helpful tips if students or staff plan to hold a fundraiser this year. Natural disasters that cause widespread damage, such as the recent hurricane Harvey in Texas, often inspire students or staff to want to help by raising money or items for those most affected. Olympia is no exception, as we are such a giving community.

Please remember these tips from Business Manager Justin Lanting when scheduling a fundraiser. Many of these tips are addressed in the ASB Handbook — a comprehensive guide on how to donate and collect funds (see page 28).

We want to make sure any school fundraising event is successful, while also following proper accounting procedures:

If interested in supporting an organization such as an account set up for disaster relief, consider the following:

  • Fraud is rampant during a crisis. Scam artists often set up donation accounts or websites that are specific to a need. Research the website by searching on the Better Business Bureau or state vendor registration. The IRS website also has a search feature, “Exempt Organizations Select Check,” through which people may find qualified charities; donations to these charities may be tax-deductible. For additional information about fake charity scams related to Hurricane Harvey specifically, view this IRS news release.
  • Do your research! Learn about the organization you plan to donate to and, when possible, find one that contributes 100% of the donated funds to the cause.
  • If the donation administrator for the organization selected does not accept a credit card payment; you must request a vendor setup in Skyward to issue a check to the vendor after your donation drive.  A W-9 is required.

Things to remember for a school donation drive:

  • Donation drives are considered fundraisers in Washington.  Necessary paperwork is required to be completed.  Approval by Student Council is required.
  • Money must be deposited nightly. Per RCW, schools are required to deposit all funds within 24 hours of receipt.
  • Money can be deposited into a current account (no need to setup a special account).
  • A separate item is required in InTouch to track money donated for a donation drive. When a donation drive is complete, print a detailed revenue report. This can be the source document for issuing a check/warrant.  If paying by credit card, use an item report to show funds have been deposited and are available for donation.
  • If paying by credit card, make sure to factor in the additional cost of processing by the card. The total amount donated cannot exceed the donated amount unless additional monies are allocated via Student Council approval.
  • Some schools have asked if they can accept cash or check donations in a box on the office counter. An OSD-sponsored collection box is not allowed; however, school PTAs may collect donations in a locked drop box, clearly labeled PTA.
  • The “Donate Now” OSD Web portal is an option for individuals wishing to make donations or for a school to use to collect donations. Once the donation drive has been approved by the school, it can be posted in Donate Now (the Donate Now link is on the bottom of every district and school website Home page). This allows our community to contribute via an electronic payment portal with no fee to the donation drive. If interested in this option, contact Business Services at Ext. 6120 to add a specific donation drive to the Donate Now portal.
  • Staff donation drive: The district does not have the ability to collect donations from staff and contribute as a districtwide group to a donation drive. Rather, staff may donate to a student donation campaign, donate themselves to a trusted charity, or collect donations among themselves separate from a school- or district-sponsored activity. If you have questions about staff donations, please contact the Business Office at Ext. 6120.

Mileage rates for 2017 and travel expense reimbursements

Based on the GSA.gov publication for 2017, mileage rates for 2017 will change to $0.535 per mile.

If you will be submitting expense reimbursements in Skyward for mileage in 2016 the old rate will apply, and the drop-down menu will default to that rate based on the date(s) you enter for the request.

If you will be submitting expense reimbursements in Skyward for mileage in 2017 the new rate will apply, and the drop-down menu will default to that rate based on the date(s) you enter for the request.

Because your request will default based on specific dates, you cannot submit one request for both years.  Each year will require a separate submission.