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Equifax Hack Could Lead to Phishing, Medical Fraud

September 14, 2017

A recent hack at Equifax could expose wealthy clients to far more than expensive unauthorized purchases and damaged credit reports, the Wall Street Journal writes. Advisors may want to help guard their high net worth clients against everything from phishing scams to medical fraud, according to the paper.

The breach of the credit-reporting agency’s data resulted in the potential exposure of 143 million Americans’ Social Security numbers, addresses and birth dates, the Journal writes. This data makes it painless for hackers to target wealthy individuals directly through simply zeroing in on them by lucrative zip codes, cybersecurity pros tell the paper. And as well as racking up purchases, criminals could use the information to hack into email accounts, Roderick Jones, chief executive of cybersecurity outfit Rubica Inc., tells the Journal.

Hackers can then use the information gleaned from email accounts to engage in phishing scams, according to the paper. Such scams can range from criminals pretending to be a regulator contact to convince individuals to download malware to adapting the victim’s writing tone in order to request wire transfers from wealth management accounts, the Journal writes.

Security experts tell the paper individuals should use caution with emails purporting to come from financial institutions and calling them when in doubt, as well as never using the same password on various accounts.

Wealthy individuals could also be targets of medical fraud because of the Equifax breach, Michael Kaiser, executive director at the National Cyber Security Alliance, tells the Journal. Criminals can use their medical information for everything from expensive doctor visits to prescription-drug fraud, according to the paper. While victims will not be held liable for the costs once they prove their identify, they may temporarily suffer damages to their credit scores as well difficulty in getting medical treatment covered by their insurers if their plan caps were exceeded by fraudsters, Eva Velasquez, president of the nonprofit group Identity Theft Resource Center, tells the Journal.

She suggests wealthy individuals inquire about added security on their insurance accounts, such as two-factor authentication and biometrics. In addition, Velasquez suggests keeping copies of all medical documents and alerting insurers and medical providers about any suspicious bills or forms, according to the paper.

By Alex Padalka
  • To read the Wall Street Journal article cited in this story, click here.