Is Your Personal Info Safe?
Have you ever seen John Oliver’s Apple spoof? It’s hysterical but pretty effed up. We all just ignore the uncomfortable truth about our personal information, just floating around out there, otherwise we’d have to have daily freak outs. So we try not to think about… how it’s all hanging by a thread.
Last week two FBI agents (and subsequently two NYC Police Detectives) rang my bell to tell me that my personal information, and my husband’s, had been compromised by a “criminal hacking group called the United Cyber Caliphate,” which claims to be linked to ISIS. Apparently we were among thousands of NYers whose information was leaked by ISIS-affiliated hacking groups along with a “non-specific” threat of violence. It was all very exciting. The two NYC Police Detectives were out of central casting and I loved them in all their native NYer glory. They told me that it was highly unlikely that anyone from ISIS was actually going to come to our house and try to chop our heads off… so, all good.
But the incident, aside from providing my husband and I with endless golden fodder for wild gesticulation over beers with our neighbors, did spark one of those uncomfortable conversations about the mind-numbing precariousness of the whole thing, the illusion that our personal information was safe and the fact that we should probably take some action.
I’ve had credit card fraud a million times – easily fixed. But identity theft is something different altogether. I have been spared this nightmare so far – but for how long? The thought of endless calls with credit agencies and – law enforcement? – to fix the problem, and the knowledge that it is actually very difficult to fix (the topic of another excellent John Oliver segment) led us to decide that yes, we should do something.
So I goddamn did it.
I Froze My Credit. Not taking out a mortgage anytime soon. No plans to open any new credit cards… so BOOM! What was I waiting for? And it was easy! All online. There is supposedly a charge from each credit agency to freeze your credit (which varies state to state) and you have to do it separately with all four: Equifax, Experian, Innovis and TransUnion. But I didn’t get charged at all – maybe when I unfreeze. It took me 15 minutes tops.