Equifax revealed on September 7 that hackers were able to exploit a vulnerability in the company’s website in order to access personal information, including names, credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, address histories, birth dates and driver's license numbers for as many as 143 million Americans.
The breach took place from approximately mid-May through the end of July.
Equifax has established a website for consumers where they can check to see if their personal information was potentially compromised as a result of this breach. Or you can call 1-866-477-7559 for more information.
What do I need to do?
As a consumer, be diligent about checking and monitoring your credit reports. Every American can pull a free credit report once a year from all three credit bureaus by visiting annualcreditreport.com. Experts recommend pulling your credit report from one bureau every 4 months in order to get a regular check on what is being reported and potentially spot any errors.
Exercise caution when clicking on links and/or downloading attachments from suspicious emails that claim to be updates from Equifax or connected to the breach.
Change your passwords, especially if you use similar passwords or security questions on multiple accounts.
Enable two-factor authentication, which will help keep hackers from accessing your accounts by sending a text message or call to you with a code to verify.
Review and monitor your credit card accounts and bank accounts, as well as hotel and airline loyalty programs for any suspicious activity.
In extreme cases, for consumers who have repeatedly fallen victim to identity theft, they can request a change to their Social Security number. The strongest possible option is to place a credit freeze on credit files with the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). However, this will lock down a consumer’s information, making it completely impossible to open new accounts and bank cards in their name.