The Lowdown on the Breach
Last July marks what may go down in history as the largest data breach of social security numbers and personal information within the United States and possibly Canada and the United Kingdom as well. With 143 million individuals being affected in the United States alone, Equifax – the credit reporting agency responsible for securely storing this highly sensitive personal data – has swiftly become the target of a fierce backlash of outrage and condemnation from the clients whose trust and valuable personal data was so heinously breached and potentially violated. Those who are uncertain whether or not their own information has been compromised can check their status at Equifaxsecurity2017.com by using their social security number.
Yet compromised social security numbers are only half of the story. In the time that hackers had access to the Equifax accounts, from May to July, they had access to credit card numbers, driver’s license numbers and other personally compromising data like birth dates and home and business addresses. This potentially puts hundreds of millions of individuals in dangerous financial circumstances, because these compromised pieces of data are the essential items necessary for a criminal to conduct identity theft
Equifax’s Public Statements
In response to this unprecedented and, what may for many be a life-threatening security breach, Equifax has released a statement in which the company explains that the breach is the result of some “website application vulnerability’, but that any accurate details beyond this description are impossible to determine without further investigations. In the midst of this The House Financial Services Committee and The House Energy and Commerce Community have each stated they will be conducting hearings that will examine what went wrong in Equifax and how anything similar can be prevented from happening ever again. State attorney generals are investigating, and not to be excluded from the proceedings are Equifax company executives –particularly three who were discovered to have sold $1.8 million worth of shares only a few days after the data breach was discovered.
How Will Equifax Make up for This Security Catastrophe?
To help clients not suffer the dangerous consequences of identity theft, Equifax is currently offering free credit monitoring service – but only for a year, and only for those who sign up before November 21st of this year. Signing up can also be done at Equifaxsecurity2017.com. The service will search suspicious websites for any uses of your social security number and give you access to Equfax reports, in addition to a number of other useful protective services.
Some Countermeasures Compromised Individuals Can Take
You’re able to receive a free copy of your credit report from the three big credit agencies once every 12 years. Be sure to visit AnuralCreditReport.com for more information. You’ll want to look over the report closely for any activity you do not recognize, or anything at all that seems suspicious – be thorough. You will have to be vigilant for much longer than the year Equifax is offering free credit monitoring services: data thieves will be aware of this heightened scrutiny!
Freezing your credit reports is another option to help ensure security; this will stop thieves from opening new credit cards or taking out loans in your name, but if you intend to open a new account, take out a loan, mortgage or apply for a new credit card you’ll have to remember to lift the freeze a few days beforehand. A freeze can be put in place by contacting Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion at their respective websites. For complete protection, be sure to freeze all three of your reports. Fortunately, a freeze won’t affect your credit score report, it will still remain open and it will be updated when necessary as per usual. Unfortunately, only so much security can be ensured; even with a freeze thieves can still file fraudulent tax returns in your name and make changes to already opened credit card accounts.