What’s the Equifax Data Breach?
Breaches have become more common than we like, and it affects almost every one of us when it happens at a major credit bureau. Yes, Equifax, one of the three largest credit bureaus in the U.S was hacked.
It is estimated that more than 143 million people have been affected by this breach, and this is almost half the U.S population. Since Equifax stores ultra-sensitive information like your social security numbers and date of births, this loss can be significant for you and for the nation as a whole.
Besides the social security numbers of 143 million, it is believed that the credit card details of more than 209,000 consumers and the credit dispute documents of another 182,000 are also stolen. The company has refused to give the number of drivers licenses that was exposed during this hack.
This breach was believed to have started in May and has continued until late July, according to a press release from the company. Hackers had stolen the data of millions of people through a website application vulnerability that had been present in Equifax, but remained unnoticed for a long time.
Equifax has declined to comment on the type of data that was hacked and what it plans to do to curtail the damage.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing much that Equifax can do about the stolen data. Since this was happening over a period of two months, much of this data would have been sold in the dark web world for thousands or maybe even millions of dollars.
The dark web is a network of hackers and miscreants who want to get such sensitive data, so they can manipulate it and use it for their own benefit. Going by this understanding, the social security numbers are one of the most coveted information as they can be misused for maximum gain. There’s always a possibility for these numbers to have been misused by now, so the damage is going to be fairly extensive.
But what Equifax can do is limit the damage and ensure that no more data is stolen through this vulnerability or anything else that may exist in its system.
This is sure to bring up a personal question – will I be affected? Most likely yes, unless you’re one of the lucky few.
What can you do?
For starters, enroll in Equifax’s identity protection program. Though it isn’t the greatest option, it’s still good as you get access to almost every available resource to protect your identity. If you’re the lucky person and you were not affected, still you get access to a free one-year subscription in this program.
Also, request for a credit report to see if there are any suspicious entries in it. The federal government ensures that every person gets a three free annual reports every year from one of the three credit bureaus. So, make use of it.
If you notice any suspicious activity, reach out to the concerned bank or credit card authority and report a case of fraud.
Even if your report is clean, be vigilant and take measures to protect your credit.