Equifax Data Breach Hits 143 Million Americans | Check If You Were Affected

The Equifax data breach announced yesterday by the credit reporting agency affects up to 143 million Americans, whose data was gained by hackers. Compromised data includes social security numbers, birth dates, and home addresses.

Equifax Breach Affects 143 Million Consumers
The Equifax data breach announced yesterday by the credit reporting agency affects up to 143 million Americans, whose data was gained by hackers. | Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Equifax made the discovery on July 29, the agency reported, after which it opened up an investigation. The breach began in May and continued until late July. The hackers exploited a “website application vulnerability,” the company reported. Also compromised was an unspecified number of driver’s license numbers along with credit card numbers for 209,000 consumers.
In addition to on its website, the credit agency also made the announcement and an apology in two tweets:

Those seeking to determine if they were affected can head to https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/ and click on “Enroll” at the bottom of the page. The form that comes up asks for last name and the last six numbers of one’s social security number. Once that form is submitted, a results page will come up explaining whether one was affected by the breach.
Three possible answers come up: one saying a user has indeed been affected by the attack, one indicating a user has not been affected, and a third, less-definitive answer that a user may have been affected. The third option also provides a future date on which the user could return to the website and enroll in the Equifax “TrustedID Premier” service.
Some Twitter users expressed frustration with the process, including the online form requiring a significant portion of one’s social security number. The hashtag #equifaxbreach began trending.

MarketWatch lists tips for consumers affected by the Equifax data breach, or who fear they may have been affected. Those include freezing your accounts with all three credit bureaus. This restricts access to your credit report by helping prevent credit card companies accessing it to open new accounts.
Another step Marketwatch recommends is signing up for additional fraud protection from a service such as Lifelock, EZ Shield or Identity Guard. Lifelock offers three levels of protection starting at $9.99 per month.
Consumers can also check credit scores for free once a year.
Equifax Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Richard F. Smith, provided comments in a video on Equifax’s website regarding the breach. “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…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,” Smith said.
Equifax handles data on more than 820 million consumers and 91 million businesses worldwide, according to the company’s website.