THE EQUIFAX DATA BREACH – WHAT HAPPENED?
Yesterday’s revelation that more than 143 million Equifax accounts were compromised means many of us are likely affected and should take steps to protect ourselves. UD’s info security expert, Dean Halter, explains that as one of the 3 major credit reporting agencies, Equifax maintains lots of very sensitive information – dates of birth, social security numbers, etc – on American consumers.
Details are still sparse about what’s been compromised and who’s affected, so recommendations are similar to those provided for the Anthem breach a couple of years back:
- enroll in the offered ID Theft Prevention/Protection program (see important caveats below)
- monitor the activity of your financial accounts through your credit reports and billing statements
- be on the lookout for scams preying on this breach
STEPS YOU SHOULD TAKE NOW (AND LATER)
Consider Enrolling in Equifax’s Free Identity Theft Protection and Credit File Monitoring
In normal situations, we would, without hesitation, recommend you take advantage of the free credit protection provided by a company when they suffer from a breach. In this instance there are additional things to consider of which we want to make you aware:
- The credit protection being offered in this case is Equifax’s own product. Each of you will need to decide if getting protection from the same company who allowed the breach is a helpful step.
- The Terms of Service of Equifax’s credit protection product require that you surrender your right to sue them. If you want to take any legal action, you would be required to accept binding arbitration. You will need to decide if that is an acceptable trade-off to you.
If you decide to enroll in Equifax’s free year of credit protection, visit https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/enroll/ to initiate enrollment in Equifax’s forthcoming service.
Review Your Financial Information
- Review billing and banking statements carefully for unauthorized activity
- Review your credit reports quarterly at https://annualcreditreport.com
- Watch for changes in mail patterns. Have certain financial statements stopped arriving in the mail or has mail stopped altogether?
- If you use online banking for credit cards and/or typical banking tasks, set up alerts (text messages or emails) for transaction limits, withdrawals, daily account status, etc.
- If you notice anything suspicious, contact your bank, card issuer or credit agency and correct it immediately
Be on The Lookout for Breach-Related Scams.
Scammers are likely to capitalize on this event, trying to try to trick you into enrolling in fake protection programs, fake check-your-credit sites, fake check/change-your-account sites.
- Don’t click links. Instead, go directly to known, trusted addresses for your bank, your credit card, and credit reporting agencies
- Don’t provide personal information over the phone