Beware: Phone Scammers Are Posing as Equifax Reps

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iStock

There doesn’t appear to be an end in sight for the recent Equifax data breach that compromised the personal information of more than 143 million people. After trying to assuage customers by offering ID and credit score monitoring, the company came under fire when they tried to insert some fine print in the monitoring agreement that waived a consumer’s right to sue as a result of the stolen data. Then, the company admitted the hackers had gained entry via a security issue that had a patch available—Equifax just hadn’t bothered to implement it.

The latest issue: On September 14, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) posted a warning on their blog cautioning consumers to be mindful of phone scammers posing as Equifax representatives.

“It’s a scam,” FTC employee Lisa Weintraub Schifferle writes. “Equifax will not call you out of the blue.”

Schifferle advises that anyone receiving a call from someone posing as an Equifax employee hang up immediately, even if your caller ID indicates it’s genuine. (Spoof numbers can mimic virtually any business.)

Unfortunately, that’s not all victims of the breach have to worry about. CBS News reports that information mined from the hack could be used in a scam to file tax returns and receive a refund—the person with the compromised identity won’t know it until he or she files their real return and is told it’s already been processed. If this happens, it's best to phone the FTC’s Identity Theft Hotline (877-438-4338) for advice on how to proceed.

Experts are also asking consumers to be on guard against “spear-phishing,” the practice of sending emails that appear to be from banks or other businesses that have enough of your personal information to look legitimate. Clicking through might open the door to malware that can steal even more of your data. It’s best to initiate contact with financial institutions yourself and avoid clicking on any links. When it comes to your financial and personal information, a little paranoia can go a long way.

[h/t Lifehacker]

Paris's Notre-Dame Cathedral Was Saved from Total Devastation, According to Fire Officials

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

People around the world watched in horror on Monday, April 15 as the iconic Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, France was consumed by flames. The fire, which French prosecutors say was likely started by accident, destroyed the building's roof, spire, and parts of the interior. But despite the intensity of the blaze, 400 firefighters were able to put it out and save the structure from total devastation, CNBC reports. Now, French President Emmanuel Macron is vowing to rebuild Notre-Dame, and donations are already flowing into the country.

The cathedral's facade and famous twin bell towers are still standing following Monday's fire. The interior also fared better than photographs of the inferno would suggest. Bernard Fonquernie, an architect who worked renovations of Notre-Dame in the 1980s and 1990s, told The New York Times that the stone vaulting inside the church acted as a firewall and protected parts of the church from damage. The famous stained glass South Rose window—which dates to 1260—remains intact, as does Notre-Dame's Great Organ, though it may be water damaged. The structure's roof, also known as "the forest" due to the amount of timber used to build it in the 13th century, suffered the worst of the fire.

Many of the priceless relics and artworks inside the church were also salvaged, including the crown of thorns the Catholic Church believes Jesus wore during his crucifixion. After Notre-Dame caught fire yesterday, firefighters, policemen, and municipal workers formed a human chain to remove treasures from the building as quickly as possible.

French firefighters work to extinguish the flames at Notre-Dame Cathedral. Here, the spire has already collapsed, but the main stone structure and bell towers were saved.
French firefighters work to extinguish the flames at Notre-Dame Cathedral. Here, the spire has already collapsed, but the main stone structure and bell towers were saved.
Veronique de Viguerie/Getty Images

Paris prosecutors are operating on the theory that the fire was started accidentally, and they've launched an investigation into the exact cause of the tragedy. In the meantime, President Macron tweeted yesterday that France will rebuild Notre-Dame over the coming years.

It's not clear what the cost of the damage is, but France is already receiving money to fund the restoration: More than 400 million euros (or $452 million) has been raised so far. Prolific donors include some of France's richest citizens: Kering CEO Francois-Henri Pinault pledged 100 million euros, and Bernard Arnault, the CEO of luxury group LVMH, pledged 200 million euros.

[h/t CNBC]

Foster Families Can Shop for Free Clothing at This Western New York Charity

iStock.com/goodmoments
iStock.com/goodmoments

There are nearly 438,000 children in the U.S. foster care system, and many of them come to their foster families needing clothes and shoes. Erin Richeal, Cheryl Flick, and Kara Brody, three foster parents from western New York, have gotten together to start a free clothing bank dedicated to providing foster kids with the wardrobe staples they need, WGRZ reports.

Foster Love Closet is a free clothing bank located in the Town Line Lutheran Church in Alden, New York, and it's now collecting donations. Open two days a week, the foster kid charity allows foster families to pick up a week's worth of kids' clothing at a time. Items like shirts and pants, as well as extra necessities like coats, socks, shoes, underwear, and pajamas, are set up in the charity's 2000-square-foot space. All socks and underwear are brand new, and any other items are either new or gently used.

There's something for foster kids of all ages, from infants to older teens. Foster parents with valid placement papers and a photo ID are welcome to pick up clothes for their foster kids four times a year, or whenever a new child moves into their home. Families are encouraged to bring their foster kids along to "shop" for the free clothes.

If you're looking to contribute to the Foster Love Closet's inventory, the center is now accepting clothes free of rips, holes, and stains that are appropriate for the spring and summer months. You can also support them by purchasing something off their Amazon wishlist.

[h/t WGRZ]

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