Credit monitoring company Equifax has been hit by a major hack exposing the names, social security numbers, birth dates and addresses of approximately 143 million US citizens.
An unknown number of driver’s license numbers have also been exposed as well as the credit card numbers of about 209,000 US consumers.
In terms of the potential for identity theft the hack is huge.
Equifax, like other credit bureaus, hold so much information on individuals that it can influence everything a person does whether it’s taking out a mortgage or loan, buying a car or even a mobile phone contract.
The company has set up a website
where people can check to see if their personal information may have been stolen.
People can also call 001 866-447-7559 for more information, though the lines may be clogged up by worried callers.
It’s difficult to understate the impact of this breach given that Equifax data is the means by which financial institutions authenticate customers.
That said Equifax chairman and CEO Richard Smith did his best saying: “This is clearly a disappointing event for our company…”
‘Disappointing’ is probably not the word that those who have had their data stolen would use given the enormous potential for fraud.
Equifax discovered the breach on 29 July but chose to release the information yesterday (7 September).
Free credit monitoring
In an attempt to mitigate the disastrous data loss Equifax is offering free credit monitoring using its own breached service.
This is a standard response that most companies make when they suffer a data breach.
Free credit monitoring alerts people to suspicious activity involving their credit files but does nothing to prevent fraud, identity theft or other behaviour using stolen data.
Unfortunately when people fall victim to fraud and identity theft, clearing their names and getting the credit history back in order can be an onerous and time consuming process.
Full protection – red flags for your data
BullGuard Premium Protection
is specifically designed to protect people’s personal data and stop them from becoming victims of the type of fraud carried out using stolen data.
- You simply enter the details you want to protect such as social security numbers, address, driving license and passport numbers, bank account details and so on. It then scans the internet, including the dark web, 24/7 for your information.
- If it is detected anywhere you receive an immediate text alert notifying you with advice on what steps to take next.
- For instance, if you have lost data in the Equifax hack, and it appears on the dark web for sale or someone tries to use it to take out a loan online or apply for a credit card in your name, these actions are immediately flagged up.
In short, as soon as someone tries to use your data for fraudulent purposes a red flag is raised and you receive an immediate alert allowing you to take immediate remedial action.