This Equifax breach is very likely to have affected you. As many as 44 percent of Americans had their personal and financial information hacked in this latest compromise.
Equifax, one of the three major credit bureaus, announced this morning that as many as 143 million consumers have had their Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, some driver’s license numbers, about 209,000 credit card numbers, and 182,000 dispute documents stolen.
Here is the announcement from the Chairman and CEO of Equifax regarding this data breach.
Equifax is stating that there is “no evidence of unauthorized activity on Equifax’s core consumer or commercial credit reporting databases.”
Although not the largest data breach – that honor belongs to Yahoo that had 500 million user accounts compromised in 2014 and another 1 billion in 2013 – it is potentially more concerning because of the role of Equifax in handling consumer credit data and scores. This data and its integrity are critical to your ability to qualify for a variety of financial products from insurance to mortgages.
Due to the nature of this compromise, we would recommend that you take the following steps immediately to protect your personal data, accounts, and credit profile.
Here are some steps to protect yourself:
- Check if your information was potentially compromised on Equifax’s official website
- Check and monitor your credit reports for unusual accounts and activity. We recommend our partner Credit Sesame. This is one of the best ways to watch for one of these currently unknown hackers or criminals that purchase this kind of financial data attempting to use your personal data.
- Enroll in an identity protection service. We recommend our partner LifeLock. In addition to monitoring your credit reports, identity protection services like LifeLock can give you an additional layer of identity protection, insurance, and investigative resources to stop any criminal use of your identity.
- Check and monitor your bank and credit card statements for unusual activity
- Inventory all of your Internet subscriptions and accounts (i.e., Netflix, Amazon, Spotify) and make sure they are secure and update all your passwords.
- Check all of your other important accounts, like Gmail, Facebook, etc. to ensure they are secure and you have separate, challenging passwords for each.