Equifax, one of the three largest credit reporting bureaus in the country, reported that due to a data breach, approximately 143 million Americans may have their personal information compromised. Data such as names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver’s license numbers are all at risk. Additionally, Equifax estimates the hackers stole 209,000 credit card numbers and 182,000 other documents containing personal information.
Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion are the top three credit reporting bureaus in the country. These bureaus are expected to collect and store consumers’ most personal information securely. Equifax is facing criticism for delaying announcing the attack for six weeks, thus giving data thieves six extra weeks to sell and store personal consumer information.
The greatest risk impacted consumers face is that of identity theft. Serious identity theft can ruin a consumers’ credit score and cause long-term financial hardship. In cases of identity theft, the earlier the crime is reported the better the consumer will fare. Meticulous credit monitoring is the best line of defense consumers can take at this time.
In its statement to consumers, Equifax assured that it would be taking steps to aid those impacted and strengthen its security around sensitive data. In lieu of the data breach, Equifax is also offering free identity theft protection and credit file monitoring for one year through TrustedID Premier. To check the potential impact on your personal information please visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/potential-impact/.