Massive Equifax Data Breach Affects More Than 143 Million Consumers
Equifax, which is one of three major consumer credit reporting agencies, announced on Sept. 7 that hackers gained access to company data that potentially compromised personal and/or financial information for more than 143 million consumers. According to a report in The New York Times, this includes Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, birth dates and addresses. In addition, the cyber thieves also stole credit card numbers for about 209,000 consumers and documents with personal information used in disputes for 182,000 people.
Experts Say It’s As Bad As It Gets
The Atlanta-based credit bureau is apparently particularly tempting for hackers because as a credit card reporting agency, it has a ton of consumer data. Experts say this is as bad as it gets. If you have gotten a credit report, there is more than a 50 percent chance that you may have been affected by this breach. Hackers gained access to the files in the company’s system from mid-May to July by exploiting a weakness in website software, an investigation by Equifax and security consultants showed.
The company discovered the breach on July 29. So far, there is no evidence that the stolen data has been used by hackers. However, security experts say that on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of risk to consumers, this is a 10. Cyber experts are criticizing Equifax for failing to adequately protect this valuable customer data and for not improving its security practices after prior data breaches.
Experts have also noted that these hackers were able to get the data they wanted to steal through a simple website vulnerability that Equifax could and should have fixed. The company handles data on more than 820 million consumers and more than 91 million business globally and manages a database with employee information from more than 7,100 employers. Equifax also houses much of the data that is supposed to be a backstop against security breaches making this data theft that much more devastating.
Are You At Risk?
Equifax has created a website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, to help consumers determine whether their data was at risk. You also have the option to enroll free of charge for its protection service. The company also suggests getting a free copy of your credit report from the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. These are available at annualcreditreport.com.
If you believe any of your personal or financial information was stolen, contact your local police department. If you believe you have been a victim of this data breach, please contact the experienced consumer class action attorneys at Bisnar Chase to obtain more information about protecting your legal rights.