Equifax cyberattack: How to get a free credit report, protect your identity

Published: Saturday, September 09, 2017 @ 4:33 PM

143 Million Could Be Affected by Equifax Data Breach

Credit reporting juggernaut Equifax announced Thursday that its information was compromised in a major cyberattack affecting 143 million Americans – or two-thirds of people with credit reports.

>> Read more trending news

Hackers were able to get birth dates, Social Security numbers, credit card numbers and addresses, according to Equifax, leaving some to wonder how they can protect themselves.

Here are some tips for ensuring your information is secure:

Find out whether you were affected by the hack through Equifax’s website. The site asks for a person’s last name and the last six digits of their Social Security number in order to determine whether the person was caught in the breach.

Don’t bother with Equifax’s monitoring serviceClark.com reported, noting that the company offering the service is the same one that was hacked.

“The only way to truly protect yourself is with a credit freeze,” Clark.com reported, recommending that people freeze their credit files with all three of America’s major credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and Transunion. Doing so does not affect whether or not a person can use already existing lines of credit.

>> Read more information on freezing your credit on Clark.com

Review your credit report and put a fraud alert on it if you are affected, Popular Mechanics suggested. A fraud alert will make it necessary for banks and credit companies to jump through extra hoops to confirm your identity. The magazine noted that a fraud alert filed with any one of America’s three credit bureaus -- Equifax, Experian and Transunion -- will be shared between the three.

>> Read more information on fraud alerts from the Federal Trade Commission

Whether or not you decide to put a fraud alert on your credit file, you can still obtain a free credit report once every 12 months from each of the credit bureaus. The reports can be obtained through annualcreditreport.com or by completing and mailing an annual credit report request form, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

>> Read more information on obtaining free credit reports from the Federal Trade Commission

You may order your reports from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies at the same time, or you can order your report from each of the companies one at a time. The law allows you to order one free copy of your report from each of the nationwide credit reporting companies every 12 months.

What it’s like decorating a Tournament of Roses Parade float

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 8:08 AM

Florist K. Mike Whittle helped create this rolling botanical wonderland.
Photo: Courtesy of Rain Bird Corp.
Florist K. Mike Whittle helped create this rolling botanical wonderland.(Photo: Courtesy of Rain Bird Corp.)

Sports fans watching the 2018 Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 will be eager to see if No. 3 Georgia can get past No. 2 Oklahoma when the teams meet at the College Football Playoff semifinal in Pasadena, Calif.

One local florist will be watching the preceding Tournament of Roses Parade with a trained and appreciative eye.

>> Read more trending news

“It was one of the most fantastic things I’ve ever done,” said K. Mike Whittle, who helped decorate a parade float years ago. “You learn so much.”

As operator of K. Mike Whittle Unique Floral Designs just off the Marietta Square, he doesn’t have a lot of free time at any point in the year. Certainly not during the holiday season. But with the University of Georgia heading to the Rose Bowl for just the second time ever, he let us tag along the other day while he set up for a party at the the Hilton Atlanta Marietta Hotel & Conference Center so we could press him for intel.

The main takeway: you just cannot believe how many flowers go into all those floats.

(Photo: Jennifer Brett)

“We used 35,000 roses,” he said, his voice still full of awe at the memory. “I was a kid in a candy store with all those flowers. They didn’t know me from Adam’s house cat but they turned me loose.”

A Marietta native who got his start as an entrepreneurial kid who would dig cattails from a ditch and sell them to an area flower shop, Whittle was working in Carrollton when he got the call to go west.

“It really steamed up my career,” he said. He didn’t love getting up on scaffolding to attend to the top of the float, but otherwise enjoyed learning floral problem-solving skills on that big a stage. “We worked 29 hours straight. It just showed me yeah, it can be done.”

The annual parade, older than the football contest, dates back to Jan. 1, 1890. That first year, horse-drawn buggies festooned with blooms were meant to echo a festival of roses in Nice, France. Two years later, winter weather threatened the supply of roses and nearly turned the event into the “Orange Tournament,” but the fledgling tradition held.

Automobiles showed up in 1901 and were shoved to the back of the parade, so they wouldn’t spook the horses. The following year saw the first merger of flora and football, when the University of Michigan rolled over Stanford University, 49-0. One year, 1913, organizers thought a camel vs. elephant road race would be fun. The elephant won, and the species’ record remains unbroken as there have been no similar matchups since.

Famed zookeeper Jack Hanna rode on the float Whittle worked on in 2002, accompanied by giant botanical tigers, monkeys and exotic birds. If your Rose Bowl party plans call for slightly less elaborate floral decor, Whittle likes roses (of course) as well as red ginger and anthurium.

“Carnations are not bad, either. It’s a sturdy football kind of rose,” said Whittle, who has created displays incorporating football helmets.

Proper hydration is key – he’ll give newly arrived blooms a couple of days to drink up before placing them in arrangements – and he uses a sharp knife, not scissors, to ensure a clean, angled cut.

Then again, he mused, there’s one major flub people make when setting out to arrange flowers.

“That is the mistake,” he said with a twinkle, “doing it yourself.”

The float Mike Whittle helped create in 2002 was an award-winning beauty.(Photo: Courtesy of Rain Bird Corp.)

Intruders dressed as police duct-tape, rob family

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 9:49 AM

Cobb County authorities are searching for intruders who dressed as police officers during a home invasion. (Photo: WSBTV.com)
Cobb County authorities are searching for intruders who dressed as police officers during a home invasion. (Photo: WSBTV.com)

As many as five men dressed as police officers broke into a south Cobb County home, duct-taped the residents and robbed them, police said. 

>> Read more trending news

Officers were called to the house just before 3:15 a.m. Thursday, Cobb police Sgt. Dana Pierce said.

When they arrived, the victims — all in their 20s and 30s — told police four or five people kicked in a door at their home, tied up the residents and took an undisclosed amount of cash, jewelry and cellphones.

The family had just moved into the home about two weeks ago, Channel 2 Action News reported.

“Once they got into the house, they said, ‘Get down! We are the police,’” one of the victims told Channel 2, asking not to be identified.

The men first encountered the woman’s brother-in-law, she told Channel 2. 

“He was the first one to have duct tape all over him and a gun to his head, telling him not to move, not to look back,” she said.

The intruders then went room to room with guns pointed.

“They had put my husband on the floor and told him not to move,” the woman told Channel 2. “They had told me to go back to bed.”

The intruders left when they suspected police were on the way, Pierce said.

Witnesses saw two vehicles leave the scene. Descriptions of the vehicles and the robbers have not been released.

“Investigators will continue looking into this to establish a motive and possibly apprehend the suspects,” Pierce said.

While no injuries were reported, the woman told Channel 2 she hopes to never see the intruders again.

“I’ll be scared now to even live here,” she said. 

Three sisters, three Ivy League colleges

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 7:39 AM

FILE PHOTO: Harvard University students walk through the campus.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
FILE PHOTO: Harvard University students walk through the campus.(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Community college probably won’t cut the mustard when two sisters get accepted into the Ivy Leagues.

Xaviera Rowan found out this week where she was going to school and it was met with cheers from her fellow classmates from Democracy Prep Harlem High School, WNBC reported.

Xaviera’s oldest sister, Chris, was accepted to Dartmouth College two years ago. Last year it was Ella and Yale. 

>> Read more trending news

This year, Xaviera found out she is going to be a freshman at Harvard University, WNBC reported.

The family’s story is a true American Dream tale.

They immigrated from Cameroon and didn’t speak much English when they arrived in the United States, except for phrases they picked up watching television.

“We started learning English, going to the library, reading books and using dictionaries,” Xaviera told WNBC.

“We essentially had to learn English within a period of six months before standardized exams,” Chris said.

The girls said their parents made education a priority at all times and credit the school Democracy Prep for their success, WNBC reported.

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle set May wedding date

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 8:26 AM

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Engaged

Royal watchers now have the date of the royal nuptials.

May 19, 2018, will be the day that Prince Harry and his fiancée, Meghan Markle, will be married at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.

>> Read more trending news

Kensington Palace, the official Twitter account of the royal family, posted the announcement Friday morning.

The couple announced their engagement Nov. 27, The Associated Press reported

FILE - In this Dec. 1, 2017 file photo, Britain's Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle arrive at Nottingham Academy in Nottingham, England. Prince Harry's fiancee is set to join Britain's royal family for Christmas. Kensington Palace says Meghan Markle will join Queen Elizabeth II and other senior royals at Sandringham, a sprawling estate in Norfolk, 110 miles (175 kilometers) north of London, it was announced on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)(Frank Augstein/AP)

Markle will be spending the Christmas holidays with her betrothed and his family, including his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II at Sandringham, the royal estate in Norfolk, north of London, The AP reported.

WATCH: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle First Engagement Interview