What consumers need to know in response to Equifax data breach

Nick Youngson  CC BY-SA 3.0

Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0

Already reeling after a disclosure last week that a May cyberattack may have stolen the personal data of as many as 143 million Americans, Equifax saw its shares fall almost 15 percent on Wednesday, to $98.99.

While the Attorney General's office is taking steps of their own to find those responsible and protect from further incidents, consumers can and should educate themselves and take their own action, first and foremost by checking whether they were affected.

The Department of Consumer Protection recommends people check to see if their information may have been compromised by logging on to http://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. This is a little bit of a tricky one because you have to freeze your file with each of the credit reporting companies and what that does is it prevents anyone from opening up a credit card, getting a loan or doing anything with your Social Security number. That prohibits a credit reporting agency from releasing any information from your credit report without written authorization and makes it harder for an identity thief to access credit in your name.

Monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts closely for charges you don't recognize. If you answered yes to any of these questions, you have credit. Scammers have already created fake sites in an effort to steal personal information.

Once you've frozen your credit, you'll receive a unique PIN from each of the three main credit agencies, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.

"Really? How many people have been affected by this?"

"I suspect the exposure was pretty extensive, but they had to go through logs and make sure it wasn't an inside job and they had to patch the hole", says cyber security expert Todd Plesco.

If you believe you are a victim of identity theft call the toll free Colorado Bureau of Investigation 24 Hour Identity Theft & Fraud Hotline at 1-855-443-3489. "We urge Iowans to take advantage of that", Greenwood said.

"You're going to enter the last six digits of your Social (Security number) and your last name and it will pop up whether or not your information has been compromised". This is especially important if you've confirmed you're a victim of identity theft.

"The nature of people using basically credit bureau focused information is to keep an eye on their credit report, not necessarily just the score but the actual contents of the report itself", said Cronin.

Not receiving expected bills or account statements. If the website said your information was potentially breached, Equifax will allow you to sign up for their monitoring service to check for fraud.

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