Equifax said Thursday that 143 million people could be affected by a recent data breach in which cybercriminals stole information including names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and the numbers of some driver’s licenses.
Following the hack, Equifax offered consumers one year of free credit monitoring to guard against identity theft. Consider enrolling in a credit monitoring and theft protection service. A fraud alert flags your account but does not automatically halt new credit being opened in your name. In addition, Equifax reported that the hackers gained access to approximately 209,000 customers’ credit card numbers, and had gained access to financial dispute documents containing PII for approximately 182,000 USA customers. However, note that this will only stop hackers from adding any new accounts, but this won’t stop them from making changes to an existing account. If any unusual charges show up they’ll know days or even weeks before they receive their monthly statement and can take action immediately. British people are also affected too, with almost 50% of the United Kingdom population estimated to be affected by the hack.
The company provided a new website for consumers to check if their personally identifiable information (PII) was exposed in the breach, but the website was rife with problems.
Equifax, one of the “big three” credit-reporting agencies and a broker in personal-identifying data, announced September 7 “a cybersecurity incident”, as stated in a mea culpa by its Chairman and CEO Richard Smith. Start with putting a freeze on your credit.
You’ll need to write to each of the three credit rating agencies to request that they remove the incorrect information. The only people who wouldn’t want to freeze their credit files are those who are activity pursuing a vehicle loan or mortgage or who plan to apply for a new credit card within days.
To prove your claim that Equifax caused you harm-the basis for your lawsuit-you’d need proof that the information leaked from Equifax actually resulted in harm against you. That is almost half the United States’ population, many of which were unaware Equifax had their information to begin with.
How do I place a freeze on my credit reports?
If you do this, you will have to lift the freeze before they can provide information to a company inquiring about your credit.
Peterson cautioned those affected to be sure they are signing up for Equifax’s free service and not its paid service.
The Canadian breach may have impacted names, addresses and social insurance numbers, Equifax added.
The credit freeze, however, will not protect you from potentially even more nefarious end users of this treasure trove of information on almost half of all Americans. That is why it was so devastating to see that Equifax was hacked and 143 million Americans’ information could be compromised. “Sharing this information with our office will allow us to warn others to be on the lookout for similar attempts”.
A spokeswoman for the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, which is the central agency in Canada, that collects identification theft complaints and other related matters, has not received any complaints in connection with the Equifax hack.