Computer hackers breached Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit reporting bureaus, the bureau announced yesterday . Personally identifiable information was accessed for 143 million Americans. This isn’t great news, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself.
In this post, we’ll briefly cover the scope of the breach, how to find out whether you were affected and steps you can take to secure your information.
What Was Taken
There were 143 million Americans impacted by this Equifax breach that took place between mid-May and the discovery of the hack on July 29. The information taken includes:
Social Security numbers
In addition to this, credit card numbers were stolen for 209,000 U.S. customers. An unspecified amount of driver’s license information was also obtained. Finally, credit dispute documents containing some personally identifiable information for 182,000 Americans were also included in the stolen data.
The hackers’ access to the system was cut off once the breach was discovered July 29. An independent cyber security firm was brought in to determine the scope of the information accessed.
How to Find Out If You’re Affected
Equifax has set up a site where consumers can see if they were affected by the breach. In order to find out, you’ll provide the bureau with the last six digits of your Social Security number and your last name. Make sure you’re comfortable with the terms and conditions of the service.
If the bureau finds it’s possible your data was taken, you’ll be given the opportunity to enroll in TrustedID Premier. Those affected by the breach are being given one year of free credit monitoring and identity theft insurance.
The following is included in the service:
Copies of your Equifax credit report
Three-bureau credit monitoring for Equifax, Experian and TransUnion
Social Security number monitoring
The ability to prevent third parties from accessing your Equifax credit report
Up to $1 million in insurance for any out-of-pocket expenses resulting from the theft of your identity
Enrollment for affected consumers is open until November 21, 2017. As of right now, the bureau is having people wait a few days before completing enrollment. You’ll be given a date after you find out whether you’ve been affected.
With that said, there are a few things you can do right now to monitor for red flags.
The biggest step you can proactively take in the wake of this breach is just to monitor your financial accounts for any unauthorized activity.
The Federal Trade Commission also has an identity theft site . This will give you information on how to place a freeze on your credit report and information on placing a fraud alert.
If you’re one of the affected consumers, absolutely take advantage of the free credit monitoring being offered. It can only help.
Any security breach of this magnitude is worrisome, but if you maintain constant vigilance over your financial and personal data, you should be able to prevent any issues before they become an emergency.
If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments. We’ll do our best to get you the answers.
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