44% of Americans Identity Information Stolen in Equifax Breach

This was a big one. This is a breach that can’t really be overstated. 143 million U.S. consumers, or 44% of Americans, could be affected by the latest cyber security breach into credit reporting agency Equifax. The information stolen may have included names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and even some driver’s license and credit card numbers. So what should a consumer do?

First, they should check to see if their information may have been compromised. Equifax has set up a dedicated website for people to see if their information was impacted. www.equifaxsecurity2017.com is where to go. At this site they can enter the last 6 digits of their social security number and their last name and Equifax will give them a message saying whether or not they have been impacted. They can also call the Equifax call center at 866-447-7559.

If impacted, Equifax is offering a free ID monitoring service, which (if they don’t have one in place already) customers may want to take advantage of. However, customers should be careful when taking advantage of this. As of this writing, there are varying accounts on whether or not your customers give up their right to be involved with any class action litigation or arbitration if they take advantage of Equifax’s free offer. Customers should be sure to carefully read the details of the agreement before accepting the terms. In addition to the ID monitoring, there are a few other things that should be done to minimize the impact this breach may have.

Change passwords:

If you or your customers use similar passwords across multiple websites, passwords should be changed immediately. Once a hacker has credentials to one account, they will attempt to use it to get into other accounts. Programs like Password Genie can help create strong, unique passwords and then save and auto-submit them when using the web.

Enable two-factor authentication where possible:

Two-factor authentication can help prevent hackers from getting into your customer’s accounts using their security questions.  Authenticating a user is typically done by sending a simple text or login code to your phone, which must be put in correctly before the account can be logged into.

Check your accounts:

Although most people do this regularly, it’s important for them to note any suspicious activity. They should make sure that they recognize all charges. Most banks and credit cards are pretty responsive to fraud alerts these days.

Watch for phishing scams:

Over the next couple weeks, customers should be especially careful about clicking links in email. Cyber criminals love taking advantage of people’s misfortune and you can count on many fraudulent emails going out, touting their ability to help customers out in this uncertain time.

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