CYBER-ATTACK: EQUIFAX REPORTS 143 MILLION PEOPLE POTENTIALLY HACKED
Looks like Equifax has some serious explaining to do. Thursday they reported a massive security breach that could possibly affect the credit histories of over 143 million people. This sort of data breach is especially damning because of the highly sensitive data that was stolen — full names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses & drivers licenses numbers in some cases. And since all of this information is what most insurance companies and banks ( and other companies of this stature) use to confirm consumer identities, you can see why this is scary. Even worst, this hack is reported to have occurred between mid-May and July of 2017, leaving many credit consumers in danger for months, unbeknownst to them.
Equifax got ahead of the news by releasing a public statement on their official website assuring consumers that "The company has found no evidence of unauthorized activity on Equifax’s core consumer or commercial credit reporting databases." Knowledge of the unauthorized access was gained on July 29th and they maintain that they "acted immediately to stop the intrusion." Apparently, hackers were able to take advantage of vulnerabilities in the main site's security frame to gain access to the accounts, which points to an even larger issue of whether credit reporting agencies are competent enough in securing consumer files and sensitive information.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Robert F. Smith, had this to say about the cyber-attack
“This is clearly a disappointing event for our company, and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do. I apologize to consumers and our business customers for the concern and frustration this causes,” said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Richard F. Smith. “We pride ourselves on being a leader in managing and protecting data, and we are conducting a thorough review of our overall security operations. We also are focused on consumer protection and have developed a comprehensive portfolio of services to support all U.S. consumers, regardless of whether they were impacted by this incident.”
Equifax is reporting that while the most substantial part of the investigation into the hack is complete. it is still ongoing. The expectancy is that it will be wrapped up within the coming weeks. In the meanwhile, they have made strides to accommodate consumers who may have been affected or are concerned about the possibility. There is now a dedicated website that can be accessed to access whether or not your information has been compromised. In addition to taking steps to assure your account is safeguarded, you might also want to take advantage of the complimentary one-year credit monitoring package being offered through TrustedID Premier, as a courtesy of Equifax. The service includes, per the website, includes "3-Bureau credit monitoring of Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit reports; copies of Equifax credit reports; the ability to lock and unlock Equifax credit reports; identity theft insurance; and Internet scanning for Social Security numbers."
Moving forward CEO Smith acknowledges that Equifax's goal cannot simply be to fix the hack because that would not be sufficient enough and he pledges that "while we’ve made significant investments in data security, we recognize we must do more. And we will.”
Although news such as this is never an easy thing to process, I encourage you to use the resources provided and be in the know at all times as to how your personal information is being used. Don't be afraid to ask questions and while you may not have been able to prevent this cyber-attack, you can most certainly have protections in place to prepare you for events like this.
Credit is knowledge and knowledge is power.
Equifax urges any consumers with further questions to either visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.com or contact the dedicated hotline (866)-447-7559 which is available every day ( yes weekends too) from 7 am -1 pm E.T.