143 Million People Potentially Affected in Equifax Data Breach

Equifax Data Breach

By Group Benefits Strategies

GBS has been providing expert health insurance consulting to municipalities and businesses for over 25 years.

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Equifax, one of the largest credit reporting agencies in the United States, was recently the victim of a massive cyber attack—an attack that may have compromised the personal information of 143 million people.

The breach itself occurred between mid-May and July 2017 when cyber criminals gained access to sensitive data by exploiting a weak point in website software. As a result of the attack, sensitive information like Social Security numbers, birthdays, addresses and driver’s license numbers were compromised. In addition, Equifax said 209,000 credit card numbers were stolen, including information from international customers in Canada and the United Kingdom.

The recent attack on Equifax is the third major cyber security threat the organization has experienced since 2015 and one of the largest risks to personally sensitive information in recent years. The attack is so severe, in fact, it’s likely that anyone with a credit report was affected.

If you are concerned that you may have been impacted by the breach, Equifax has set up a website to help individuals determine if any of their personal information may have been stolen. Once you have navigated to the website, complete the following steps:

• Click the “Check Potential Impact” button.
• Provide your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number.

From there, a dialogue box will pop up and indicate whether or not your information was lost in the hack. All U.S. customers will also be given the opportunity to sign up for TrustedID Premier, which is an Equifax service that includes identity theft insurance, credit reports, and a service that crawls the internet and alerts you if your Social Security number is posted somewhere online. This service will be free for one year for those who sign up by Nov. 21.

If you have been impacted by the breach, experts recommend engaging in a credit freeze. This effectively locks down your Social Security number on your credit report and prevents criminals from opening up new lines of credit under your name. For more information on credit freezes, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website.

It should be noted that it may not be obvious that you are a customer of Equifax, as the company gets its data from credit card companies, banks and lenders that report on credit activity. As such, it’s important to follow the appropriate steps and check to see if your information was compromised.

Additionally, you should review your online bank and credit card statements on a weekly basis. This will help you monitor any suspicious activity. Contact law enforcement officials if you believe criminals have used your stolen information in some way.

Group Benefits Strategies will continue to monitor the Equifax cyber incident, providing any monitor the Equifax cyber incident, providing any major updates as necessary.


Employment Law Seminars

Employment Law Seminars

Managing a Changing Workplace

GBS is committed to keeping our clients current on all of the latest issues that face their municipalities. With that in mind, we are pleased to let you know of an upcoming employment law seminar being conducted by Joe Bartulis.

Joe is the Chairperson of the Labor and Employment Law Practice Group at the Fletcher Tilton law firm. Having had Joe present seminars for GBS in the past, we find his seminars to be very informative and well worth it.

More details about the seminar are contained in the below evite. It will take place on two different dates. The first will be on the morning of Thursday October 5, 2017 in Natick. The second will be in the Worcester area on the morning of Tuesday October 17th.

To register, click on the active date links immediately above the evite and you will be directed to the registration page.


Client Spotlight – Town of Burlington, MA

The Human Resources Office and the Treasurer’s Office work closely to encourage employees and their family members to make choices that promote a healthy lifestyle. In a time where healthcare costs are rising, we see a responsibility to provide initiatives that correspond to smarter use of healthcare dollars. Some of our activities include on-site workshops lead by experts on various wellness topics such as healthy eating, balancing work and family, parenting, stress reduction, mindfulness and healthy living. We also provide annual flu shot clinics for all employees. These programs were available to all Burlington employees and are offered in a variety of municipal and school locations to encourage attendance from all groups.

We have offered incentives for our employees to attend Lahey Clinic’s Freedom From Smoking program which to date has provided employees with a 100% quit rate and we continually receive excellent employee reviews. In the springtime we get our employees outside for a walking challenge and sponsor a team to participate in the Harvard Pilgrim 5K. Our employees enjoy our annual Wellness Fair which showcases over 35 wellness providers and includes health screenings, activities, and information on numerous health-related topics. We also piloted a self-directed Healthy Holiday program that was quite popular and provided information, encouragement, and incentives to make informed eating choices during the holiday season.

Our wellness initiatives will continue to focus on education and encouragement to maintain a healthy lifestyle. We will also continue to assist our employees in utilizing the benefits programs offered to them in the most efficient way possible, which include use of local urgent care clinics for a $20 Office Visit copay and avoiding the $200 Emergency Room copay, waived copays for imaging that occurs at a free-standing facility such as Shields MRI, encouraging use of mail order prescriptions and offering free brand-name prescriptions through BurlingtonScripts, and free diabetes medication and supplies through the Good Health Gateway.

It is our hope that by encouraging our employees to maintain a healthy lifestyle, while best taking advantage of the programs available to them, we will all see positive impacts both in our health insurance claims and in the well-being of our employees and their families.

Joanne M. Faust, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Human Resources Director , Town of Burlington/Burlington Public Schools

GBS Supports Planting the Seed Foundation

Worcester’s Planting the Seed Foundation is a 100% volunteer, non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to improving the lives of homeless children and their families in Worcester, Massachusetts and surrounding towns. Each year, Planting the Seed Foundation is blessed with the support of thousands of Worcester’s most dedicated and caring citizens.

Group Benefits Strategies Owner and President Kate Sharry has served on the Board of Directors for the Planting the Seed Foundation for several years and counts the small, grass roots organization as one the firm’s most satisfying charitable relationships.

“Planting the Seed Foundation has been an important part of the GBS culture for many years due to that fact that every dollar and every single donation goes directly to a family in need.” Ms. Sharry explains, “We are proud to be affiliated with this incredible organization and to be part of the direct impact PTS has on children and families.”

Right now, Planting the Seed Foundation is in the middle of its annual school supply drive. Each year PTS sets up giant donation boxes in area businesses where clients and customers can deposit school supplies for children in need. The organization has helped make learning an easier proposition buy making sure every child that needs basic school supplies can have them.

The Planting the Seed Foundation web site says of the event, “Through August we will be collecting school supplies and filling back packs to help these children get the supplies needed to go back to school. There will be donation boxes throughout the whole city at local businesses, including in each of our Worcester fire stations.  Any and all school supply donations would be greatly appreciated. Bins will be picked up the week of August 20th.”

GBS encourages all of our friends to help make this the biggest school supply drive ever! Please check out all of the donation locations at the link below.