What You Need to Know About
the Equifax Data Breach
Background: What is Equifax?
Equifax is one of three major U.S. credit reporting bureaus.
The other two are TransUnion and Experian. There is also a
smaller, less well-known credit-reporting agency called
Innovis (aka CBCInnovis) that operates slightly different in
that its main purpose is to provide mortgage credit reporting
services to the financial services industry.
Equifax, like TransUnion and Experian, track the financial
histories of consumers and use this information to analyze
whether a person is "credit-worthy" by issuing them a credit
score. The credit score is based on the credit history
contained in the credit report, a record of consumers'
financial histories. Credit reports are comprised of
information about your bill payment history, loans, current
debt, and other financial information. Credit reports also
contain information about where you work and live and whether
you've been sued, arrested, or filed for bankruptcy.
Credit reports, which are also called credit records, credit
files, and credit histories, help lenders decide whether or
not to extend you credit or approve a loan, and determine what
interest rate they will charge you. Prospective employers,
insurers, and rental property owners may also look at your
credit report. Typically, the information collected on
consumers is sold by the credit bureau (e.g., Equifax,
Experian, or TransUnion) to credit card companies and other
The hackers had access to data from May 2017 to July 2017,
including names, birth dates, Social Security numbers,
driver's license numbers and credit card numbers.
As many as 145.5 million people in the United States were
affected, as well as 400,000 in the United Kingdom and 8,000
consumers in Canada. Credit card numbers for approximately
209,000 U.S. consumers and certain dispute documents with
personal identifying information for approximately 182,000
U.S. consumers were accessed, according to Equifax.
What to do if it is likely that you were impacted by the
Equifax data breach
The first thing you should do (if you haven't already) is to
obtain and review your credit report(s) and determine whether
there's been any unusual activity. Next, check whether your
data has been hacked using the special website Equifax set up
for data breach victims (www.equifaxsecurity2017.com). You
will need to provide your last name and the last six numbers
of your Social Security number. From there you can sign up for
their free credit monitoring service. You won't be able to
enroll immediately; however, but will be given a date when you
can return to the site to enroll. Keep in mind that Equifax
will not send you a reminder to enroll so you should mark the
date on your calendar so that you can start monitoring your
credit as soon as possible.
Note: Equifax removed the arbitration clause from
the website that was set up for data breach victims. The
arbitration clause stated that by signing up for the
free I.D. theft protection and monitoring from its
TrustedID service a consumer could not take legal action
against the company--including participating in any
class-action lawsuits that might arise from the breach.
Freeze your credit report accounts at each of the credit
bureaus. Freezing your credit reports (make sure to freeze
your account at each of the credit bureaus) prevents anyone
(including new creditors) from accessing your account. Equifax
has waived the fee until November 21, 2017) and has agreed to
refund fees to those who have paid since September 7, which is
the date that the data breach was announced.
If you do not want to freeze your credit account, you can
place a fraud alert on the account. A fraud alert warns
creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and that
they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name
really is you.
Note: Unfortunately, a freeze on your credit report does
not necessarily mean that your bank accounts and other
identity-related information is safe. Furthermore, if
you do need access to your credit report, you will need
to pay a fee to "unfreeze" it.
Get in the habit of periodically check your bank, credit card,
retirement, and other financial accounts that could
potentially be impacted now or down the road and make sure
your Internet security (antivirus, firewall, malware detector,
etc.) is working properly.
Finally, filing your taxes earlier, rather than later (i.e.,
at the last minute) helps prevent a hacker from filing a tax
return using your stolen identifying information.
to take if it appears that you were not impacted by the
Equifax data breach
Even if the Equifax data breach website states that you were
not affected, it's a good idea to keep an eye on your credit
reports, bank accounts, credit card accounts and other
financial information. You can freeze your credit accounts as
well (see above) and sign up for fraud protection.
Watch out for Equifax-related
If you receive a phone call and the person on the other end
says, "This is Equifax calling to verify your account
information.” Hang up immediately. It's a scam because Equifax
will not call you out of the blue.
Every year, thousands of people lose money to telephone scams
from a few dollars to their life savings. Scammers will say
anything to cheat people out of money. Some seem very
friendly-- calling you by your first name, making small talk,
and asking about your family. They may claim to work for a
company you trust, or they may send email or place ads to
convince you to call them.
If you get a call from someone you don't know who is trying to
sell you something you hadn't planned to buy, say "No thanks."
And, if they pressure you about giving up personal
information--like your credit card or Social Security
number--don't give in. Simply hang up.
recognizing and preventing phone scams and imposter scams:
give out personal information. Don't provide any personal
or financial information unless you've initiated the call and
it's to a phone number that you know is correct.
trust caller ID either. Scammers can spoof their numbers,
so it looks like they are calling from a particular company,
even when they're not.
you get a robocall, hang up. Don't press 1 to speak to a
live operator or any other key to take your number off the
list. If you respond by pressing any number, it will probably
just lead to more robocalls.
If you've already received a call that you think is fake,
report it to the FTC. If you gave your personal information to
an imposter, change any compromised passwords, account numbers
or security questions immediately. If you're concerned about
identity theft, visit IdentityTheft.gov to learn how you can
Stay safe and take steps to protect your data. If you have any
questions or concerns about the Equifax data breach and your
taxes help is just a phone call away.
If you have any questions about Equifax, don't hesitate to call. Help is just a phone call away at
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