Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported that hackers had gained access to some of the systems of Equifax Inc., one of the largest three credit reporting companies, potentially compromising the personal information of 143 million U.S. consumers. The systems they gained access to contained customers’ names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, and addresses. These four pieces of information are generally needed for consumers to apply for many forms of consumer credit, including credit cards and personal loans. This raises the risk of fraud, as it means the hackers could have an easier time getting approved for credit under someone else’s name. In addition to this information, credit card numbers, driver’s licenses, and dispute documents with sensitive information could have been compromised for some users. Because Equifax gets its data from credit card companies, banks, retailers and lenders, you could be affected regardless of whether or not you have ever knowingly provided them information.
This is being called one of the largest and most threatening data breaches of recent years. We encourage everyone to make sure they are protected and to closely monitor their credit for identity theft. Equifax has set up a website to help consumers determine if their information has been compromised. One also can call their dedicated call center for consumers at 1-866-447-7559. The company offers credit-monitoring and identity-theft protection products to guard consumers’ personal information. Consumers can also protect themselves by immediately placing fraud alerts on their credit reports. This means that a lender must contact you to verify your identity before it issues credit in your name for the next 90 days.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.