Equifax Data Breach
Equifax Discloses Massive Consumer Data Breach
Consumer credit reporting bureau Equifax announced a major data breach affecting approximately 145.5 million consumers. The company said that from mid-May through the end of July, criminals exploited an Equifax website vulnerability to access names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and in some cases driver’s licenses. The company also said that about 209,000 consumers’ credit card numbers were accessed, along with credit dispute documents with personally identifying information for 182,000 consumers.
Equifax has set up a website to help consumers determine if their information was breached and, if so, to sign up for credit monitoring and identity theft protection offered by TrustedID, an Equifax subsidiary. Equifax will also mail notices to consumers whose credit card numbers or dispute documents were breached.
You can click here for additional information and current updates regarding the breach.
Please take a moment to read through the information on the website and check and see if your data was potentially compromised.
If you have any questions, please call Equifax at (866) 447-7559.
While not everyone will be the victim of identity theft because of this breach, it will be important to take proactive steps to protect yourself. Here are some steps everyone should take:
Contact any of the three credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian or Trans Union – and tell them you want to initiate a fraud alert. When a fraud alert is initiated by one credit bureau, the other two credit bureaus are contacted and automatically initiate the fraud alert, too. A fraud alert will notify any potential lender that you’ve been a victim of fraud and they should contact you directly before opening a line of credit. The fraud alert stays active for 90 days and can be renewed when it expires.
- Monitor your bank accounts and credit cards
Regularly check your bank accounts or credit cards for any suspicious activities. If these accounts offer fraud alerts, make sure the fraud alerts have been activated. If you do spot suspicious activity, alert your bank or credit card company immediately.
- Monitor your credit report
If you have not done so already, pull a copy of your free credit report from annualcreditreport.com. Everyone is entitled to a free copy of their credit report every 12 months. If any new accounts are added to your credit report, contact the credit bureaus immediately.
- Monitor your email and regular mail
Pay attention to and retain any mail or email you receive that is unfamiliar to you, such as notices from the IRS regarding your taxes or any bills from unknown lenders.
- Freeze or lock your credit file
A security freeze will prevent potential lenders from accessing your credit report. Your credit report will only be accessible by unfreezing the account. If you are planning on applying for new credit in the near future, you could consider postponing the security freeze. Fees and requirements for adding and removing a freeze vary by state.
Equifax is offering free credit freezes until January 31, 2018. The company also will refund fees to anyone who already paid for freezes since September 7, when it announced the breach. If you’re thinking of placing a freeze, read this first.
For more information, click on Equifax, Experian or Trans Union.