On September 10, we learned the disturbing news involving the now widely reported Equifax data breach affecting 143,000,000 consumers. To put the massive size of this breach in perspective, there are about 326,000,000 people in the United States. What makes this data breach so alarming is that Equifax is one the of the three major credit reporting bureaus in the U.S. Because of the “quality” of personal data that has been accessed and stolen, this breach is huge. It is much worse than other high-profile data breaches, including the 2015 Anthem data breach.
Equifax data compromised includes:
- Your name
- Social Security number
- Birth date
- Some driver license numbers
- 209,000 credit card numbers
A small consolation in all of this is that thieves did not access Equifax’s database where your credit score and credit history are maintained.
Was Your Information Compromised?
Equifax has set up a link for consumers to determine if you are a victim. We recommend that you check to see whether your information has been compromised. To determine this, click on the link: www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/potential-impact/. Once here, you will need to enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number. You will be immediately advised whether or not your information was stolen.
If you do not have a computer, you can call Equifax at 866-447-7559.
If I am a Victim, What Steps Should I Consider?
Equifax is Offering One Year of Free Credit Monitoring
First, Equifax is offering one year of free credit monitoring. You can enroll in this program, called TrustedID Premier, at www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/enroll/. TrustedID Premier includes three-bureau credit monitoring–not just credit monitoring for Equifax. If you choose to enroll, you must return to this site after the date you are provided in order to finalize your registration and activate the monitoring. At that time, you will need to provide an email address. After the free one-year offer, the future cost of credit monitoring as it now stands will be your financial responsibility.
If you sign up for the credit monitoring offer, you are not waiving your right to participate in any litigation against Equifax at a later date (such as an affected member of a class-action suit). This past June, Anthem settled a class-action law suit filed as a result of its 2015 data breach for a record $115,000,000.
Even if your information has not been compromised in this breach, you can still sign up for the one year of free credit monitoring. This offer ends November 21, 2017.
Freezing Your Credit Should Be Considered
While monitoring your credit is one step to consider, the quality of information stolen could enable a criminal to completely wreck your credit. Therefore, we suggest that you take an additional measure. We strongly recommend that you freeze your credit, as well as the credit of any of your family members who also may have been affected.
To freeze one’s credit, you need to contact each of the three credit reporting bureaus. A freeze will last until you remove it. If you need to “thaw” your credit in order to give someone access to it, remember that there is a nominal fee to thaw the account, and then a nominal fee to re-freeze it for each credit reporting bureau.
Following is the contact information you will need to freeze your credit. Equifax is the only credit agency that you can initiate a credit freeze by telephone.
For TransUnion and Experian, you can initiate a credit freeze via an online application:
Experian – https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html
If you have questions about the Equifax data breach, protecting your credit, cyberbreaches, or if you believe that your company may have been a victim of a cyber breach, please call Frank A. Suponcic, CPA, CFE, CFF in the Skoda Minotti Litigation Support Advisory Group at (440) 449-6800 or email Frank.