On Thursday the credit-monitoring giant Equifax announced that they had been breached in late July. The breach has impacted 143 million consumers, with Social Security Numbers, Addresses, Drivers Licenses, and over 200,000 credit card numbers as part of the data stolen.
Equifax is one of the four major credit bureaus and as such is one of the few major entities outside of banks, doctors, or the IRS that Americans share their most sensitive data with. Equifax has started a program for consumers to see if they were impacted, and if so to provide complimentary ID theft protection – visit their site and sign up to see if your data was part of the breach and to claim your ID theft protection.
The breach included many types of personally identifying information that aren’t standard in other data breaches. A medical office that has its records stolen won’t have a history of previous addresses, an IRS breach typically won’t include a drivers’ license number, but this type of information and more was part of the Equifax breach. Since this information is used to answer security questions for the other credit bureaus and with other creditors the Equifax breach poses a major threat to consumer security.
How To Protect Yourself:
Even if you don’t qualify for the Equifax ID theft protection it’s important to have a plan in place when your data is stolen. And always be careful to monitor applications for credit in your name through lenders you’re associated with, download your free credit report each year (go to AnnualCreditReport.Com to request your reports from each credit bureau), and be extremely cautious about who you share information with, don’t sign up for store cards or more credit cards than you absolutely need, don’t wire money to or share credit information with someone you met through email.
Breaches are happening frequently these days – if you have a business and want to provide better peace of mind and security to your customers contact PMCS at (818)957-5647 to discuss security options that will protect you from the vulnerabilities that cause these kinds of leaks.
If you find yourself getting hit by ID theft often or are just worried about the risk read up on how to freeze your credit – security writer Brian Krebs has put together a FAQ about freezing credit and minimizing credit risk that everyone should read.