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Equifax: What it is and how to protect yourself

September 22, 2017

Over the course of the past few months, millions of Americans have been affected by the data breaches at Equifax. According to the Federal Trade Commission, an estimated 143 million people’s credit information was compromised in the breach, and nearly everyone with a credit report was at risk.

Equifax is one of the three main credit reporting agencies in the United States. Any person who has a credit card, pays a cell phone bill, or has taken out a loan in their name has information in a reporting agency. Part of the breach also included the “company” sending phishing emails and phone calls, asking for personal information from the people who use their service. The FTC explains that this includes information, such as an individual’s name, address, social security number, and birth date.

Unfortunately, cyber criminals had access to all of this information during the data breach that occurred from May to June of 2017, according to Equifax. Along with the millions of American’s personal information being accessed, it was found that some credit card information was also stolen in the breach. The FTC reported that hackers, “stole credit card numbers for about 209,000 people and dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 people.”

For people who received notification that their personal information could have been accessed, the FTC and banks around the country are recommending taking a few steps to ensure that the information is not being used. The first suggestion is simply “finding out if the information was exposed.” On Equifax’s website, this can be found by going to the “Potential Impact” tab and entering the last name and last six numbers of the person’s social security number.

Free credit monitoring is offered through Equifax’s website, but there are also many other sites that offer this service. Equifax is one of three big credit reporting agencies in the nation. Experian and TransUnion offer the same free services.

Along with credit monitoring through one of these companies, the FTC also recommends checking bank accounts more frequently for suspicious activity and unrecognized charges. Filing taxes early is also listed as a precautionary measure that can be taken to prevent tax identity theft through the information that can be accessed on Equifax.

Due to the Equifax breach, staying alert and taking preventative measures to protect personal information on the internet can be more crucial than ever.

Kaelin Sommer
News Editor

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