In one of largest, and worst, data breaches yet, Equifax has confirmed that information of up to 143 million Americans has been exposed. The hack, which happened in either May or June of this year, was discovered by Equifax on July 29th.
What makes this attack particularly bad, aside from the sheer number of people affected, is the type of information that was exposed. Equifax is one of the 3 major credit repositories in the United States. They gather information including names, addresses, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, credit card numbers, etc. And since consumers don’t actually do business directly with Equifax, many may not even be aware that they are affected. Equifax is supplied the information by creditors, like banks, credit card companies, lenders, etc.
“This is clearly a disappointing event for our company, and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do,” said Equifax chairman and CEO Richard F. Smith.
Equifax has set up a website, albeit a confusing one, that consumers can use to see if their information was exposed. To check, go to https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/potential-impact/, and enter your last name and the last 6 digits of your Social Security number. However, the message you will receive is not particularly clear, as to whether or not you’ve been affected. Either way, Equifax is offering one year of TrustedID Premier, a credit monitoring service. While that itself will do nothing to help protect your data, or prevent it from being used nefariously should it have been exposed, it will alert you suspicious activity. You should read the terms of service of the program, however, prior to signing up. You must agree to give up several rights to participate.