143 million people could be affected by Equifax cyber breach

Yesterday, Equifax, one of the nation’s largest credit-reporting companies, released a statement saying a massive cybersecurity breach this summer compromised the personal information of nearly 143 million Americans, CNN reported.

Atlanta-based Equifax said in a statement Thursday up to 143 million people may be impacted after “criminals exploited a United States website application vulnerability”.

MarketWatch lists tips for consumers affected by the Equifax data breach, or who fear they may have been affected. Its investigators believe the breach started in mid-May.

Equifax CEO Richard Smith has promised to make it up to every customer, but some analysts say that promise is too little, too late, asking why the company is just now making public a breach it discovered in July.

Social Security Numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some cases, driver’s license numbers, were exposed to hackers between mid-May and July, Jackley’s consumer warning said. “The Equifax breach has potentially exposed sensitive personal information of almost everyone with a credit report, and my office intends to get to the bottom of how and why this massive hack occurred”, Schneiderman said in a statement.

Equifax is offering a credit freeze (they call it “Credit Report lock”) for a year with their Trusted ID Premier service, so you won’t have to pay for installing the freeze at Equifax. Sergeant Jeff Plank of the State Bureau of Investigations explained, “The Equifax leak is smaller than Yahoo, but the type of data that they house is way more important”.

A caveat: Equifax includes a disclaimer on its site that if you purchase or use its products, you must agree to resolve disputes through arbitration, waiving your right to participate in a class-action lawsuit. You can find the information in Section 4 of the site’s “Terms of Service” section.

The credit monitoring company’s law firm provided that headcount to the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office. Both committees’ staff were briefed Friday on the breach. “Equifax could remove this clause so that consumers can receive this service without condition”.

The company could be facing extra scrutiny after three executives sold more than $1.88 million dollars in stock in the days after the breach, and before the company had notified shareholders and consumers of the incident.

About the only upside to this we can think of is everyone is going to get a lot more scrupulous about checking balances, statements and credit scores.

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