Hurricanes and Data BreachSubmitted by MidWestOne Investment Services on September 14th, 2017
There have been a number of strange happenings in the world that are causing me to change my normal format a bit. I still hope you find the information relevant and useful!
While our weather here in Iowa has been outstanding these last few weeks, the Gulf States haven’t been as fortunate. First, Hurricane Harvey blasted eastern Texas, with many areas receiving over 40 inches of rain and a few areas receiving over 50 inches in a four day period. I was in Iowa City in 1993 and again in 2008, so I have seen some flood devastation. The pictures coming out of Texas were unbelievable and frightening. Then, Hurricane Irma caused amazing damage through the Caribbean and into the Florida Keys. Winds reached a ridiculous 185 mph. Some of you reading this have property in Florida, and my parents have an RV there, with no word on its status. We have two banks in the area, one reopened today and one is still closed with no power. Most importantly, all 17 employees are safe. Finally, Hurricane Jose is still spinning around in the Atlantic. It looks as though it will spare the areas that Irma blasted but it marked the first time in history that two active hurricanes simultaneously had wind speeds over 150 mph in the Atlantic. If you are so inclined, the Red Cross seems to be the go to place for donations. I am sure there are many others, but be wary of scammers.
A whole different disaster struck the financial world as well. Equifax, one of the “big four” credit reporting agencies, experienced a security breach that could expose personal information of approximately 143 million Americans. That number may rise as the depth and scope of the breach continues to develop. There are a number of things you could do to see what your exposure may be. First, visit the Equifax breach website at www.equifaxsecurity2017.com to determine whether you have been impacted. Equifax is offering free credit monitoring services for one year to all Americans regardless of whether you are impacted by the breach. Just a reminder that monitoring doesn’t prevent ID theft. It simply alerts you when things happen to impact your credit. You could also place a freeze on your credit with all of the reporting agencies to prevent any new accounts being opened in your name. Be extremely vigilant about people offering help and then asking for your information. While this is important, don’t be lured into acting without verification. And along those lines, please understand that we may require a bit more verification of information if you want to transact business with us, especially if it is unusual for you to make requests through email or over the phone.
Thank you for once again understanding my deviation from usual topics. If you or someone you know was impacted by the hurricanes, please know we will help you however we can. Also, if you have questions or concerns about the data breach, we along with our bankers will help you understand the risks and the best ways to protect you moving forward.