On Thursday, Equifax, one of the three major credit reporting agencies announced that hackers had obtained access to company data potentially impacting approximately 143 million U.S. consumers. After the companies recent investigation, Equifax stated that the unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July 2017. The cybersecurity incident was discovered on July 29, 2017, in which they immediately took measures to stop the intrusion by engaging with a leading independent cybersecurity firm. The company also reported the incident to law enforcement and will continue to work with the authorities until the investigation completes in the coming weeks.
The information accessed includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and in some instances, drivers license numbers. Equifax also stated credit card numbers of approximately 209,000 U.S. consumers, and personal identifying information for 182,000 consumers involved with credit disputes.
Have you been affected by the hack?
Equifax will not be contacting everyone that may have been affected, but the company will be sending out direct mail notices to consumers whose credit card numbers or dispute information were accessed. Richard F. Smith, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Equifax, stated: “We also are focused on consumer protection and have developed a comprehensive portfolio of services to support all U.S. consumers, regardless of whether they were impacted by this incident.” The company has established a dedicated website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, to help customers determine if the hack potentially affected them. The site will be available as early as Monday, September 11, and will also offer U.S. consumers to sign up for credit file monitoring and identity theft protection, and the offer will last for one year. TrustedId Premier will handle the monitoring and protection and will include 3-Bureau credit monitoring of Equifax, Experian and Transunion; the ability to lock and unlock Equifax credit reports; identity theft insurance; and internet scanning for Social Security numbers. However, the credit monitoring and identity protection may require you to accept TrusteId’s terms and conditions, including it’s “Attribution” Section.
Equifax has also set up a dedicated call center, 1-866-447-7559, to assist customers seven days a week from 7 a.m. – 1 a.m. Eastern time.
Protecting your Identity Theft
Identity theft continues to increase each year, in 2016 victims of identity theft were robbed of $16,000.00. An important factor in protecting yourself from identity theft is regularly checking your credit report and monitoring your account statements. As a consumer, you are allowed a free copy of your credit report once a year from all three credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. You can request your free copy of your credit reports online at www.annualcreditreport.com. If you have noticed unauthorized activity on your credit report or accounts, immediately report the activity to your bank or credit card companies, and then contact law enforcement.
For Additional information on how to protect yourself against identity theft, you may access The Federal Trade Commission’s website.