California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Sunday issued a consumer alert following the Equifax data breach that affected 143 million Americans and over 15 million Californians. "Equifax knew and should have known that failure to maintain adequate technological safeguards would eventually result in a massive data breach". The cyberattack occurred between mid-May and July, but Equifax (EFX) didn't disclose the incident until Thursday. The hackers accessed people's names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver's license numbers. As part of its investigation of this application vulnerability, Equifax also identified unauthorised access to limited personal information for certain United Kingdom and Canadian residents.
The massive theft of Social Security numbers and other personal data at Equifax could affect some 2 million Minnesotans. The credit profiles it holds contain personal information, like how much people owe on their houses and whether they have court judgments against them. The statement must include your name, address, and Equifax user ID, as well as a "clear statement that you do not wish to resolve disputes with Equifax through arbitration". "Perhaps now they'll get serious about defending personal information - or suffer the severe financial, reputational and personal consequences now being faced by companies like Yahoo".
Equifax is offering free credit monitoring to affected consumers. Credit-card numbers for about 209,000 consumers were also accessed, the company said. "It's to get you to sign up for its revenue-generating product TrustID".
Monitor your credit card statements carefully. Several politicians and consumer groups have criticized this provision. Consumers can also check their credit report for free each year at annualcreditreport.com.
The bureau noted that Equifax provides an automated, secure line (1-800-349-9960) for consumers to freeze their credit report with the agency. Review it closely for unauthorized accounts or any mistakes.
Be vigilant in checking your accounts and your credit. If you notice any suspicious transactions, notify your financial institution immediately.
Place a credit freeze at all three credit bureaus.
"I would say any of the credit reporting agencies; I would consider it the mother-load of data for someone who wants your data", he says.
This is a good reminder to us all that constant vigilance is more necessary than ever when it comes to our credit. A freeze remains until you remove it. Fees to freeze your account vary by state, but commonly range from $5 to $10. But it's free for residents of some states, including Maine, New Jersey and SC. The report stays open and is updated to keep track of your debts, payments and other information.
"My advice is don't go to Equifax's website".
Experts say a breach like this takes time.
Trends associated with previous breaches suggest that LifeLock will benefit from the breach. However, Equifax said these waivers don't apply to this cyber security incident.
Equifax has created a website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, for consumers to check to see if their information has been compromised. If you believe you've been a victim of identity theft, you should also contact law enforcement. Google has a lot of this, plus the email inboxes of more than a billion people. The bad guys now have your financial information, your employment history, your children's names, what school they attend - this is a tsunami of personal risks to all US citizens, not just the 44% who were directly affected.
Equifax, which has not commented on the lawsuit, said Thursday that hackers "exploited a USA website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files", between mid-May and July.