• Equifax Breach and Protecting Yourself in the Aftermath
  • October 5, 2017
  • On September 7, 2017, Equifax, one of the three major credit bureaus, announced it had suffered a data breach from midMay until the end of July. This data breach exposed personally identifiable information for 143 million United States consumers, including Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, birth dates, addresses, and credit card information. According to the United States Census Bureau, the United States population was 325,822,793 persons on September 7, 2017. Therefore, this breach affected approximately half of the citizens within the United States.

    Most notable about Equifax’s response to this breach is that they will not be directly notifying consumers. Equifax has set up a website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, where consumers who believe they may have been affected can receive one year free credit monitoring provided by Equifax. However, to receive this complementary credit monitoring, Equifax is requesting the consumer’s last name and last six digits of their Social Security number. Requesting the last six digits of the Social Security number, compared to last four digits, is incredibly unusual and is likely connected to the disclosure of Social Security numbers.

    While this is not the largest data breach in history, Yahoo currently holding such title, this data breach affects some of the most sensitive personally identifiable information. As such, it is important that consumers take steps to protect themselves from identity theft and abuse of their accounts. The Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC”) has issued guidance to consumers affected by a data breach. The FTC recommends that consumers remain vigilant for incidents of fraudulent activity and/or identify theft by reviewing their account statements and monitoring credit reports. Consumers are able to obtain a copy of their credit report from each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting agencies:

    Equifax 1-800-525-6285 equifax.com

    Experian 1-888-397-3742 experian.com

    TransUnion 1-800-680-7289 transunion.com

    Even if consumers do not find any suspicious activity on initial credit reports, the FTC recommends that consumers check their credit reports periodically. If a consumer believes they are the victim of identity theft, consumers should contact their local law enforcement, Attorney General’s Office and/or the FTC. Consumers can obtain from these sources more information about steps that can be taken to avoid identify theft and information about fraud alerts and security freezes. Contact information for the FTC is Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580, 1- 877-382-4357, or https://www.ftc.gov/.