Equifax announces major security breach affecting 143 million customers in the U.S.
For consumers in the United States, the name Equifax is a familiar one. The credit agency is one of the three main forces in the consumer credit market, along with contemporaries Experian and TransUnion. If you’ve ever applied for a bank account, credit card, car loan, mortgage, job, or anything else requiring a background or credit check, it’s almost a certainty that your information has been sent to Equifax. That’s why the latest cyber security incident is one of the most alarming in recent years. Equifax announced today that the personal data of over 143 million United States citizens was hacked.
The credit bureau stated that the hack took place on July 29th and involved the leaking of personal information including “names, birth dates, social security numbers, addresses and potentially drivers licenses.” In addition to the treasure trove of personally identifying information, approximately 209,000 credit card numbers were stolen and “certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers.”
In response to the hack, Equifax will be contacting affected consumers in the United States through physical mail and will be performing audits of their internal security protocols and procedures. They will also work with police and federal authorities to resolve the issue and will offer free credit identity theft protection and credit monitoring services to all U.S. consumers.
The best thing consumers can do now is contact Equifax to verify whether or not their information was stolen. Also, consumers should regularly check their credit history, banking activity, and other items controlled by their personal information to prevent or identify fraud. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion will provide a free credit report upon request once every 12 months.