Equifax, one of the three major credit monitoring companies and ID theft protection, has announced a major breach impacting 143 million people.
Roughly 44% of the country’s population may have had personally identifiable information (PII) compromised as a result. This information includes Social Security Numbers, addresses, birth dates, and credit card numbers. Hackers can then use this information to steal an identity.
This breach is believed to have taken place between mid-May and July. The discovery came on July 29th. Equifax has waited an additional six weeks to notify consumers of the cybersecurity breach.
Consumers can determine if their information was included in the leak through an Equifax supported site. However, if consumers want to determine if their data has been exposed using Equifax’s site, they must waive their right to sue the Atlanta-based company. The full clause reads:
“AGREEMENT TO RESOLVE ALL DISPUTES BY BINDING INDIVIDUAL ARBITRATION. PLEASE READ THIS ENTIRE SECTION CAREFULLY BECAUSE IT AFFECTS YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS BY REQUIRING ARBITRATION OF DISPUTES (EXCEPT AS SET FORTH BELOW) AND A WAIVER OF THE ABILITY TO BRING OR PARTICIPATE IN A CLASS ACTION, CLASS ARBITRATION, OR OTHER REPRESENTATIVE ACTION. ARBITRATION PROVIDES A QUICK AND COST EFFECTIVE MECHANISM FOR RESOLVING DISPUTES, BUT YOU SHOULD BE AWARE THAT IT ALSO LIMITS YOUR RIGHTS TO DISCOVERY AND APPEAL.”
While there is speculation that the terms above will not hold up in court. New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, has stated that the “language is unacceptable and unenforceable.”
For those not wanting to waive their rights it is advised that you complete the following steps:
Get a free credit report. By Federal law, you are guaranteed one free credit report per year from the three major bureaus (yes, including Equifax). Head to this website to get your most-recent credit report and determine if there is, in fact, any irregular activity.
Freeze your credit. It is harder for a hacker to open a credit card in your name during a credit freeze. You’ll need to call all three credit bureaus — Equifax (1-800-349-9960), Experian (1‑888‑397‑3742) and TransUnion (1-888-909-8872) — to freeze your credit.
Set a fraud alert. Anyone can sign up for a free, 90-day fraud alert. The FTC has information on how to do that here.
Accellis is currently monitoring the situation and will provide updates on the matter as they become available.