Getting up to speed on the Equifax data breach scandal

Elias Hubbard
September 13, 2017

Among the sensitive information vulnerable: names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver's license numbers, credit card numbers, and some "dispute documents", which also include some personal information. Many have chose to take precautions and put their credit on ice: a credit freeze. You can request a copy of your credit report online at www.annualcreditreport.com.

Equifax is among a handful of companies that control data such as credit histories that banks rely on to assess whether consumers should get loans.

Closely monitor their own credit reports, which are available free once a year, and stagger them to see one every four months. The two others are TransUnion and Experian. So a credit freeze with only one bureau is incomplete protection. Such PINs could potentially be brute-forced by someone attempting to unlock a credit report for the goal of identity theft.

It says it has asked the credit monitoring company to tell Canadians as soon as possible if their information was stolen and to adopt measures to help them.

As such, they are more likely to offer you fraud alerts and other credit monitoring products.

The costs to freeze and lift the freeze on your credit vary based on where you live and for each credit reporting agency, but commonly range from $2 to $10 per agency. It later said customers could sue if they sent Equifax written notice within 30 days.

But even that doesn't totally protect your information since your data isn't fully frozen until it is on ice at all three credit bureaus.

And just days after the company learned of the hack, three top Equifax executives, including the chief financial officer, sold shares of the company's stock worth nearly $2 million.

Equifax Inc is a global provider of information solutions and human resources business process outsourcing services for businesses, governments and consumers.

At that point, you'll receive a message telling you whether you've been impacted by the hack. This means bad guys could open fraudulent credit accounts and rack up tons of debt in your name.

"In addition, credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 US consumers, and certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 USA consumers, were accessed".

Apple's (APPL) release of their latest iPhone today will feature a new "Face ID" which will replace their current fingerprint reader and demonstrates how some companies are addressing cybersecurity issues by adopting biometrics.

With millions of people feeling vulnerable after the hack and scrambling to secure their most important information, getting a credit freeze has been more hard than usual in the past few days.

But as Schatz noted on Twitter, those freezes aren't free. Equifax should reimburse consumers who place freezes on their own.

But considering the size and scope of the breach, it's probably better just to assume you were part of it. Dion adds, however, that freezes often come with fees.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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