About 143 million US customers of credit report giant Equifax may have had information compromised
News from Equifax that the personal details of as many as 143 million consumers were accessed by hackers has raised new fears about identity theft and their vulnerability.
The credit-reporting agency is offering credit file monitoring for anyone who’s worried about the impact, but right now the only way to check to see if you were one of the victims is via a Website set up by the company.
According to the FTC blog, if you have a credit report, there’s a good chance that you’re one of the 143 million American consumers whose sensitive personal information was exposed in a data breach at Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit reporting agencies.
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.
The breach is one of the largest ever reported in the US and, said experts, could have a significant impact on any Americans affected by it.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, this is a 10,” said Avivah Litan, a Gartner analyst who monitors ID theft and fraud. “It affects the whole credit reporting system in the United States because nobody can recover it, everyone uses the same data.”
Security expert Brian Krebs said Equifax was just one of several credit agencies that had been hit by hackers in recent years.
“The credit bureaus have for the most part shown themselves to be terrible stewards of very sensitive data,” wrote Mr Krebs. “and are long overdue for more oversight from regulators and lawmakers.”
Credit rating firm Equifax holds data on more than 820 million consumers as well as information on 91 million businesses.