Cyber security data breaches are on the rise, and one of the latest victims is a major credit reporting agency in the United States, Equifax. Americans with credit reports need to be aware of the facts of the breach and how to protect themselves from future cyber security threats.
What did the hackers access?
According to Equifax, the hackers gained access to:
- Names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and some driver’s license numbers
- Credit card numbers for 209,000 people and dispute documents with personal identifying information for around 182,000 people
- Personal information from citizens of the UK and Canada as well as the United States
Was my information accessed?
Find out if your information was exposed on the Equifax website. U.S. consumers can get a free year of credit monitoring through Equifax until November 21, 2017.
How can I protect myself in the future?
As technology advances, data breaches become harder to prepare for. It’s important to take precautions to protect your personal information. Consider taking the following actions:
- Checking credit reports for unusual activity – through the nation’s three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
- Monitoring existing credit cards and bank accounts for unknown charges
- Placing a credit freeze on your files – this makes it harder for new accounts to be opened in your name, but won’t prevent a thief from making changes to your existing accounts
- Placing a fraud alert on your files – this warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and they should verify your identity. A fraud alert is an option if you decide against a credit freeze
- Filing taxes early – as soon as you have the information needed, file before a scammer can