The Equifax Data Breach: A Quick Guide
Equifax, one of the largest credit reporting agencies in the United States, was recently the victim of a massive cyber attack— one that may have compromised the personal information of 143 million people.
The breach itself occurred between mid-May and July 2017, when cybercriminals gained access to sensitive data by exploiting a weak point in website software.
As a result of the attack, sensitive information like Social Security numbers, birthdays, addresses and driver’s license numbers were compromised. In addition, Equifax said 209,000 credit card numbers were stolen, including information from international customers in Canada and the United Kingdom.
The recent attack on Equifax is the third major cybersecurity threat the organization has experienced since 2015 and one of the largest risks to personally sensitive information in recent years. The attack is so severe, in fact, that anyone with a credit report could have been affected.
Am I affected?
Equifax has set up a website to help individuals determine if any of their personal information may have been stolen. If you’re concerned you may have been impacted by the breach, go to the website and complete the following steps:
- Click the “Check Potential Impact” button.
- Provide your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number.
From there, a dialogue box will pop up and indicate whether or not your information was lost in the hack.
All U.S. customers will also be given the opportunity to sign up for TrustedID Premier
All U.S. customers will also be given the opportunity to sign up for TrustedID Premier, which is an Equifax service that includes identity theft insurance, credit reports, and a service that crawls the internet and alerts you if your Social Security number is posted somewhere online. This service will be free for one year for those who sign up by Nov. 21.
It may not be obvious that you are a customer of Equifax, as the company gets its data from credit card companies, banks, and lenders that report on credit activity. As such, it’s important to follow the appropriate steps and check to see if your information was compromised.
If you’re one of the millions of unsuspecting people who have been impacted by the breach, experts recommend you enact a credit freeze. A credit freeze limits who can see your credit information and prevents people from opening any new accounts. This will effectively lock down your Social Security number on your credit report and prevent criminals from opening up new lines of credit under your name.
A credit freeze will make it more difficult for you to open new lines of credit also. If you’re thinking of making a major purchase, you may want to research the process before freezing your credit. For more information on credit freezes, visit the Federal Trade Commission website.
You should also take the time to review your online bank and credit card statements on a weekly basis. This will help you monitor any suspicious activity. If you believe criminals have used your stolen information in some way, contact law enforcement.
Sonus Benefits will continue to monitor the Equifax cyber incident and provide updates as necessary.
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