Credit reporting firm Equifax experienced a data breach, discovered on July 29, that could lead to the personal information of 143 million consumers being exposed online. Equifax estimated that the illegal cyber activity occurred between mid-May and July 2017.
Leaked personal information included names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, addresses, drivers’ license numbers, and credit card numbers, company representatives said. They confirmed that 209,000 credit card numbers were obtained as were credit dispute documents containing personally identifiable information (PII) of 182,000 consumers. Equifax has also claimed, on a FAQ page about the breach, that they have “found no evidence of unauthorized activity on Equifax’s core consumer or commercial credit reporting databases.”
Consumers can check to see if the breach may have impacted them on an Equifax website specifically established to provide consumer information about the breach: https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. Consumers can also enroll in “TrustedID Premier” an Equifax credit monitoring service operating across all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). The credit enrollment offer is complementary and is available for all customers (not just those impacted by the breach) until November 21, 2017. Consumers may be hesitant, however, to entrust their credit monitoring needs to a company without strong cybersecurity controls.
Brian Krebs’ “Krebs on Security” blog has analysis on the scandal as well as advice for consumers on what they can do now to protect themselves. Krebs advises consumers to put a “credit freeze” on their credit file with Innovis, a credit bureau not as well known as the big three firms. Consumers should also be vigilant in checking their credit card reports and remember to obtain regular credit reports from a trusted agency, to verify that scammers have not stolen their identity to make fraudulent purchases or set up fake accounts.
Watch Equifax Chairman and CEO Rick Smith’s video statement on the data breach here.