Millions of consumers affected by the Equifax data breach.
If you have a credit report, then you are likely affected by the Equifax data breach. Cyber criminals have been using the stolen information to apply for credit cards, mortgages, student loans, and more. Equifax is one of the largest credit reporting agencies and this breach significantly raises the risk of identity theft for consumers. The personal data acquired from the Equifax data breach includes names, Social Security numbers, addresses, birth dates, and potentially driver’s license numbers. This includes personal data for not only people in the United States, but the UK and Canada as well. The breach occurred between May and July of 2017.
WHO is at risk?
As mentioned, just about everyone who has a credit report is affected by the Equifax data breach. Equifax is one of the 3 major credit bureaus, which reports credit ratings for every individual with a credit history. The information stolen during this breach is well known and affected individuals should consider taking action in order to protect themselves from identity theft. If you are one of the rare few to not have a credit history, or credit report, you may not need to take any action.
WHAT should you do?
For anyone that has a credit history, you should assume you are affected by this data breach. Take the below steps to ensure you are doing everything you can to make sure your personal information is not abused. These steps cannot prevent all identity theft or abuse, but will minimize your chances of such.
- File your taxes early. Also, take a look at our tax related identity theft protection page for some additional tips.
- Make sure you are checking your credit reports regularly.
- Be sure to monitor you bank accounts and loan accounts closely.
- In addition, check your credit reports from Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Consider visiting www.annualcreditreport.com.
- Place a credit freeze on your accounts so it makes it harder for an identity thief to open new accounts with your information.
HOW did the Equifax data breach happen?
On September 7, 2017, Equifax announced the security incident happened between May and July of 2017. The Equifax data breach was discovered on July 29th, 2017. Attackers exploited a vulnerability in the Apache Struts application, which allowed them to gain access to privileged systems. This “zero-day” vulnerability, which is one that few know about, led to the attackers gaining access to a plethora of personal information. In addition, Apache Struts is used by many companies and government organizations to run their websites. While there was a patch available to close the security vulnerability, Equifax did not patch their suspect systems in time.