Imagine this. You have been working hard your whole adult life, paid everything on time, have a stellar credit score, consistently monitor your score because you are saving up to buy a house or that killer sports car you have been coveting. You are #adulting like a mofo and BAM Breaking News you learn that all of that could be gone in the blink of an eye.
Totes just happened.
Sorry that hard earned credit score could be altered before your eyes and there is not much you can do about it.
Last week, the credit-rating company disclosed that it was hacked earlier this year, leaving 143 million U.S. consumers’ personal information exposed. Equifax now faces numerous lawsuits, a huge stock price hit and several state and federal investigations. (SOURCE: NPR)
Here are the facts, according to Equifax. The breach lasted from mid-May through July. The hackers accessed people’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. They also stole credit card numbers for about 209,000 people and dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 people. And they grabbed personal information of people in the UK and Canada too. (SOURCE: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2017/09/equifax-data-breach-what-do)
This is absolutely unreal. It goes to show you that nothing is really safe. But the reality is we all knew that. I work at an internet company, this is a major concern amongst our customers. The internet is not safe, there is always potential for hacking. There are some incredibly intelligent people out there, if they want access to something they will find a way. I mean if the government can get hacked, anyone can. And possibly the most infuriating, the genius executives sold shares of the company days after the breach occurred. They knew what was up and they sold shares to save themselves while keeping the details under wraps. Creeps.
What does this actually mean for us, the consumers?
Unfortunately, the outlook is grim. The breach has already happened and the persons’ responsible will have that information for years to come. They can use that information for anything. Equisux, ahem Equifax is not really offering any good options for the consumers involved and they have been very lax on this incident. This has to be the grossest neglect on consumer data that has ever occurred. It is really the definition of hypocrisy. Consumers are paying for services that are meant to protect their identities when in fact the company in which they are trusting are the ones giving away that information.
What You Can Do To Protect Your Credit Data
Here are steps that you can take to protect your personal information from being misused.
Find out if your information may have been exposed. You can do this by entering your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number at Equifax’s website. The site will tell you if you’ve been affected by the data breach.
You can enroll for a free year of credit monitoring. Whether or not your information was exposed, U.S. Equifax consumers are eligible for year of free credit monitoring and other services. The site will give you a date when you can come back to enroll.
Contact the nationwide credit reporting companies and review your free credit reports from each of them. You are entitled to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three major consumer reporting companies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). You can request a copy from AnnualCreditReport.com.
Be sure to monitor your accounts for any unusual activity. Accounts on your credit reports that you didn’t open, incorrect personal information on your credit reports, and credit inquiries from companies you’ve never contacted are all potential signs of fraud or identity theft.
Consider placing a credit freeze. Placing a credit freeze on your reports makes it more difficult for a thief to open a new account in your name. Remember that a credit freeze cannot prevent a thief from making changes to your existing accounts.
Consider setting a fraud alert. This requires creditors to verify your identity before issuing a credit card, opening a new account or increasing a credit limit on an existing account. A fraud alert will not prevent a lender from opening credit in your name the same way a freeze does, but it does require lenders to take additional steps to verify your identity first.
—Emily Sullivan (copy can be found on http://www.npr.org/2017/09/14/550949718/after-equifax-data-breach-consumers-are-largely-on-their-own)
Now is the time to be proactive.
It is up to you to monitor and keep up to date on changes in your credit score. As if there isn’t enough on your plate….. This is a true disgrace, and I really hope this company is held accountable, not slipping through some loophole, although they have already took down some major fine print in hopes to keep the law suits at bay. I find it very ironic that shortly before Equifax admitted the breach, their CEO was named Atlanta’s Most admired CEOs of 2017. Frauds.
For Shame Equifax, For Shame.