Cybersecurity is a clear danger. Even the credit reporting agencies aren’t safe.
On September 7, the credit-reporting agency Equifax announced that they'd experienced a data breach. The breach could affect 143 million people.
That's a serious breach...one of the worst ever.
Identity Theft Risk Factor: High
This kind of data breach includes people's names, address, Social Security numbers, etc. Exactly the kind of information usable for identity theft.
Equifax has asked Mandiant, a security firm bought by FireEye in 2014, to help address the breach's aftermath. They will also mail letters to those whose personally identifiable information (PII) was impacted.
What You Can Do to Protect Yourself
While Equifax and Mandiant take whatever actions they can, you can do a few things personally. First, check through your credit and bank statements. Look for any unauthorized transactions. If you find them, report them to the appropriate bank.
(Your bank may also have identity theft assistance available. If so, take advantage of it.)
If you see unauthorized transactions, your identity may be at risk. Contact the three credit reporting agencies - TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax - to freeze your credit report.
Finally, change the passwords on your credit reporting and bank accounts. This includes Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, CreditKarma, Mint, and other related services.
Cyberattacks Will Continue. Guard Your Personal Information Accordingly.
We hope this breach didn't affect any of our customers or readers. Unfortunately, this kind of breach just illustrates how pervasive and persistent cybercriminals are.
NOTE: Equifax has set up a website for consumers to check if they’re affected. However, this website itself is not secure, and they’re asking for your last name & part of your Social Security Number. Please use with caution.
In addition, the site offers a TrustedID Premier service for those affected. TrustedID Premier’s Terms of Service says that, upon agreement, you waive your right to participate in class-action suits. New York’s Attorney General has called the TOS unenforceable, and is already talking to Equifax. It’s not likely to inhibit those affected, but we wanted to mention it just in case.
Additional suggestions are available at:
What to do now if you’re among 143 million Americans affected by Equifax data breach – MarketWatch
What to do if you were hit by the Equifax Data Breach FAQ - CSO Online