Hackers can get to you anywhere! If Equifax, one of the largest consumer credit reporting bureaus in the county can be breached, then nowhere is safe.
In September of 2017, Equifax confirmed that their computer system had been breached, and hackers stole 147 million people’s personal data. Because Equifax is a credit reporting agency, the type of information taken opens up the victims to Equifax identity theft. The hackers gained access to names, home addresses, phone numbers, birthdates, social security numbers, and driver’s license numbers. Through this Equifax hack, hackers also got away with credit card numbers for about 209,000 Americans.
When Was the Equifax Data Breach?
The actual breach occurred sometime from May 2017 through July. Equifax discovered it on July 29. In the history of all data breaches, cybersecurity experts are calling it the most devastating data breach in history, rendering personal information as identifiers basically useless.
A lawsuit by Equifax shareholders unearthed details showing that Equifax had used a username of “admin” along with a password of “admin” for a portal that contained sensitive customer information for credit disputes. Equifax also admitted to storing personal information on unencrypted servers, which were online, which is a recipe for Disaster.
How to Check if Your Data Was Stolen From Equifax Data Breach
Soon after the data breach, Equifax set up a specific website where customers can check to see if they were affected by the data breach. Visit the website here and enter your last name and the last six digits of your social security number to see if your information was stolen. By hitting the submit button, you will instantly see whether or not the incident impacted your information. You can then file a claim.
What to Do if Your Data Was Breached From Equifax Data Breach
Equifax has agreed to offer victims a choice of a settlement payout of $125 or some credit services. IDStrong offers credit monitoring services to keep an eye on things and keep your credit safe. Additionally, if your information was used and resulted in losses, you could get another $20,000 settlement from Equifax to cover expenses related to fraud and identity theft. If you need to contact one of the major credit bureaus use the numbers below:
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285 or www.equifax.com
Experian: 1-888-397-3742 or www.experian.com
TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289 or www.transunion.com
Equifax Breach Settlement
Visit the Equifax data breach settlement website for details on how to file a claim or join the class action lawsuit. After performing your Equifax hack check, you can decide which action you want to take. Claims must be filed before January 22, 2024. Initially, the cutoff date was set for January 2020 but was extended to allow all victims plenty of time to discover the breach and take action.
Can My Information Stolen From Equifax Hack be Used for Identity Theft?
It is important to see if you were affected by this data breach. If your personal information was used to steal your identity, it could negatively affect your life in many ways, including ruining your credit score. Thieves use stolen personal information to obtain credit and make purchases that you may then be liable for later.
What to Do to Protect Yourself
Never give out your personal identity information (name, address, social security number, driver’s license number, mother’s maiden name, etc.) to anyone unless you have to.
Periodically check your credit rating and activity to review charges and accounts to be sure they are legitimate.
If you were affected by this data breach, it might be a good idea to have all your credit card numbers and bank account details changed. Also, change passwords for any logins that relate to the accounts affected. Don’t forget to make your passwords strong and to change them frequently.
Another option you might want to consider is to freeze your credit report. A credit freeze means only you have the power to allow someone to review your credit report. So, if hackers get your information and try to open new accounts, they won’t be able to. If you need to open accounts or obtain financing, you can temporarily lift the credit freeze.
Although it is impossible to protect yourself against breaches like this one, you can take swift action to prevent any further damage. It is also highly advisable to learn about data breaches and how they occur.