There’s a chance you’ve never used Equifax, or even heard of it, but that doesn’t mean you’re safe from the latest data breach.
The major consumer credit reporting agency was hacked recently and cyber criminals accessed sensitive information—like names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses and the numbers of some driver’s licenses. Credit card numbers for about 209,000 people were also exposed, as was “personal identifying information” for around 182,000 U.S. residents involved in credit report disputes.
The breach occurred between mid-May and July, and Equifax says it discovered the hack on July 29.
In total, information was compromised for as many as 143 million Americans, which is almost half the country. Equifax gets its data from credit card companies, banks, retailers and lenders, without you knowing, so it’s not easy to know if your information was exposed. The company will send mail notices to anyone whose credit card numbers or dispute records were released, but they will not contact everyone who was affected.
How To Know If Your Data Was Exposed
First, visit a website Equifax set up related to the breach and click on the Check Potential Impact tab. From there, submit your last name and last six digits of your Social Security number.
According to the site, you will then receive a message indicating if you’ve been affected. The site does not state how or when you will receive that message.
Regardless of whether your information was affected, Equifax says it will give you the option to enroll in TrustedID Premier, which is an identity theft protection and credit file monitoring service. You’ll receive an enrollment date and you should return to the site on that date to activate your TrustedID Premier service. The enrollment period ends Nov. 21.
You should know, however, that there are some strings attached to getting help from Equifax. For example, they aren’t promising to fix your credit, just monitor it. You’re also signing away some of your rights to sue.
As a general rule of thumb, it is important to review account statement and credit reports yourself to see if anything seems amiss. Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com, told CNN it is ideal to do it weekly, if possible.
“Bad guys can be very patient, so it’s important to keep an eye out long after this story fades from the headlines,” he said.
If you have questions about this latest incident, call 866-447-7559 for more information.
Here’s a video from Equifax about the incident: