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Clark Howard: 10 things you need to know about the Equifax data breach

Published: Monday, September 18, 2017 @ 4:49 PM

The Equifax Breach – How To Find Out If You are at Risk

WSB-TV News anchor Craig Lucie hosted a special one-hour Q&A with consumer adviser Clark Howard Monday morning to answer questions on the Equifax data breach.

>> Read more trending news

Questions came in on a variety of topics, and Howard was extremely passionate throughout. He gave advice on protecting credit, shared tips on which services to use and even spoke directly to Equifax executives and the company’s CEO.

At one point, Howard pointed directly into the camera and said, “Equifax, you are lame!”

It’s important to note that WSB-TV reached out to Equifax and offered company officials the opportunity to join the show. They declined.

Below are questions and Howard’s answers to some of the most-talked about topics.

What are we dealing with here? 

“This is the ugliest data breach in the history of the digital era. There is nothing else that has ever happened that is like this. There have been some very large (breaches) of medical providers, and Yahoo had the largest worldwide breach. But the information gathered was never as broad or as deep as this. 143 million Americans, this is nearly two out of three American adults with a credit file.”

Will freezing my credit negatively affect my score?

“If you freeze your credit, it has no impact at all on your existing credit, and has zero impact on your credit score ... Freezing your credit will simply prevent a criminal from opening a new account as if they were you. That’s the whole purpose of freezing your credit.”

How do I freeze my credit?

“The first thing you should do is go to Credit Karma and sign up for their self-monitor. Freeze your credit with each of the three credit bureaus HERE.”

What form do I need to mail Equifax? 

“Don’t mail a form to Equifax, do it online.” 

What about paying to freeze credit?

“It’s idiotic and mean-spirited that we have to pay a fee to lock down our own credit when we never gave these companies permission to build these documents on us. We never gave them permission to sell off our information over and over again. They created the hazard for us, both economic and moral. And now we’re left with the mess to clean up. And we have to pay to clean up their mess! How insane is it?”

How has Equifax handled the breach?

“They have been tone deaf. They don’t know how to handle this because they don’t care about us. (It’s) new territory for them.”

What will happen in the next year or two?

“There’s going to be a role for Congress to play, and a role for other American companies to play.”

How long do you think this could last? 

“These are the keys to the kingdom. These criminals have everything they need to take over your identity, and to do things as if they were you for the rest of your life.”

143 Million Could Be Affected by Equifax Data Breach


Libby Godwin, a volunteer with Team Clark Howard’s Consumer Action Center, said the center has been flooded with concerned callers.

“I’ve been here for 5 and a half years and it’s never been so busy,” Godwin told WSB-TV.

CAC Director Lori Silverman said the increase in calls is “unprecedented.”

“We’ve had over 1,000 calls per day,” she said. “We have a 100 percent phone use one call at a time.”

Click here to visit Clark Howard's official website,

Close-up of the upper corner of a consumer credit report from the credit bureau Equifax. In September of 2017, a data breach at Equifax exposed the personal information of thousands of customers. (Photo via Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images).(Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

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Austin bombings: Authorities clear suspect Mark Conditt’s home of explosives, officials say

Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 2:45 PM
Updated: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 2:45 PM

Austin Package Explosions: Suspect Dead

Police continue to investigate a series of deadly bombings in Austin after authorities said the suspect, identified as Mark Anthony Conditt, 23, killed himself early Wednesday.

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Dog viciously killed by owner in driveway, horrified neighbors now seeking justice for Gabriel 

Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2018 @ 10:05 PM

Neighbor Said He Saw Dog Viciously Killed by Owner in Driveway, Is Now Seeking Justice

Residents in North Tulsa, Oklahoma, want justice for a dog they believe was killed by his owner. 

>> Read more trending news 

James Penix said he looked out his window on Feb. 21 after hearing the screams of a dog. Penix said he saw his neighbor killing his dog named Gabriel with a dumbbell in the driveway. 

Penix said he called 9-1-1 and emergency operators referred him to the City of Tulsa's animal control division. But he said responding animal welfare officials allegedly said they could not find the home involved in the dog’s death and left. 

>> Related: United suspends pet cargo service in wake of mix-ups, dog death

Penix began a petition on, calling for justice for Gabriel. It had more than 2,500 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.

Animal Control reopened the investigation and will present possible charges to the Tulsa County District Attorney's Office. 

An update to the petition suggests the neighbor's other dog was taken as evidence and remains in the custody of Animal Welfare. 

>> Related: Girl injured by emotional support dog while boarding Southwest flight

The City of Tulsa responds to animal cruelty reports Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and forwards such calls to Tulsa Police after hours. 

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Parents of bullies could face $500 fine if Pennsylvania bill becomes law

Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 1:31 AM

Being A Parent Of A Bully Could Land You In Jail Under New Anti-Bullying Law

A Pennsylvania lawmaker has introduced legislation that could have parents footing the bill if their child bullies another kid at school.

>> Watch the news report here

It started out as a rule in Sharpsburg.

>> On Parents face fines in new anti-bullying ordinance

WPXI checked with the police officer who enforces the law and he said it is working as a deterrent.

He also said it's raised awareness of how serious bullying is, and the potential consequences.

After Brentwood and Sharpsburg passed local anti-bullying ordinances that fine parents of bullies, a state lawmaker is proposing more encompassing legislation.

State Rep. Frank Burns' bill gives parents three strikes. He's from Cambria County.

>> Read more trending news 

The first time a child bullies someone, the school is required to inform his or her parents how it handled the situation. If it happens a second time, parents would have to take a class on bullying and attend a bullying resolution conference.

The third time, parents would receive a court citation and pay up to a $500 fine.

Punishing parents for the actions of their kids —> Pa lawmaker proposes fining parents $500 for child's bullying.

Posted by WPXI Courtney Brennan on Tuesday, March 13, 2018

In a statement issued last week, the Democrat said bullying can lead to physical assaults and suicide.

He said holding students, parents and officials accountable "is the only way to put an end to this scourge."

The proposal also includes an anonymous bullying reporting system requiring the state education department to track bullying incidents and file monthly reports.

Sharpsburg police have yet to file any citations against parents.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

How to Talk to Kids About Bullying

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Man facing child porn charges after 'gingerbread house' full of explicit photos found in forest

Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 2:03 AM

VIDEO: Man Facing Child Porn Charges After "Gingerbread House" Full of Explicit Photos Found in Forest

A Mill Creek, Washington, man is facing charges after a treehouse was found in the Snoqualmie National Forest with child pornography hanging on the walls inside.

>> Watch the news report here

KIRO-TV first reported on the discovery off the middle fork of the Snoqualmie River in February. The unauthorized treehouse was reported by an employee of the Department of Natural Resources, according to court documents. A DNR worker took a couple of the photographs off the wall to show law enforcement and called the King County Sheriff's Office.

The DNR employee took a detective to the treehouse, which was described in court documents as "an elaborate tree house that resembled a fairy or gingerbread house." The treehouse was about 8 feet off the ground with a porch surrounding it.

>> On Treehouse filled with child porn found near North Bend

Investigators say that inside the treehouse they found photographs of naked young girls framed on the walls. There was also a bed, food, supplies, a book and an electronic keyboard.

They found an envelope with more pornographic images.

The King County Sheriff's Office handed the case over to the FBI to investigate. The FBI sent KIRO-TV new photos of the house on Monday.

The FBI searched the cabin in April 2017 and collected items to test for fingerprints and DNA to find out who built the cabin.

They took construction photos, smoking material, bedding, glasses, photos of girls, bags of batteries and glass from the photograph frames.

They sent the items to the FBI laboratory in Quantico.

Federal investigators said they also talked to a Search and Rescue volunteer who said he had seen an SUV near the cabin on multiple occasions, and he had the license plate information. Investigators tracked down the owner of the vehicle and watched him.

>> Read more trending news 

Investigators said they took a swab from the handle of his motorcycle and later got a paper drinking cup he discarded. Those items were also sent to the lab in Quantico.

According to court documents, the items tested at Quantico positively identified the 56-year-old Mill Creek man. Court records show Daniel Wood, of Mill Creek, has been charged with two counts of child pornography possession.

FBI agents searched Woods condominium in Mill Creek in February and collected his computers, Amazon Fire, SD cards, Polaroid tablet, VHS tapes and video recorder.

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