Equifax Cybersecurity Breach Affects More than 140 Million Americans
Credit reporting agency Equifax announced on September 7th that as many as 143 million people have been affected by a cybersecurity breach that occurred between mid-May and July of this year.
Criminals gained access to information including names, birth dates, addresses, social security numbers, and some drivers’ license numbers by exploiting a US website application’s vulnerability. The agency estimates that in addition to the general personal information, more than 200,000 credit card numbers were exposed, as well as information from 182,000 consumers involved in credit report disputes. People in Canada and the UK have also been affected.
According to Equifax, the breach was discovered on July 29th.
Equifax chairman and CEO Richard F. Smith released a statement in which he called the breach “… a disappointing event for our company, and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do.”
How to Determine If You Were Affected by the Equifax Cybersecurity Breach
Equifax is one of three major credit reporting companies in the United States. The company is tracks and rates credit and financial histories for consumers, and supplies its information to banks and other lenders.
Equifax tracks data related to:
- Credit cards
- Credit limits
- Collections, settlements, and bankruptcies
- Rent and utility payments
- Employment history
- Anything else that is used for calculating a consumer credit score
One of the things that makes this breach unique, aside from its massive scope, is that many of the victims involved in the breach won’t even realize they are affected. Unlike agreements for credit cards and other loans or contracts, customers of Equifax might not even realize they are customers of the company.
Equifax collects its information from third parties, such as banks, retailers, credit card companies, and other lenders. Consumers play a passive role in the exchange of information and might not even realize what is on their Equifax credit report unless there is a problem or in a case like this, due to a security breach. Some people might remain unaware of a problem until a criminal uses it and damages the victim’s credit report.
Equifax is notifying people by mail who were affected by the breach. Consumers were also invited by the company to submit their names and the last six digits of their social security number to determine if the breach affected them, and to be enrolled in credit monitoring and identity theft protection free of charge.
If you’d like to know more about the breach or you want to know what you can do if you were affected, we can help. Legal action could be an option for victims of this and other cybersecurity breaches.