“Equifax says a giant cybersecurity breach compromised the personal information of as many as 143 million Americans — almost half the country”, reports CNN News.
This was back in 2017, but the aftereffects of this data breach are now kicking in.
Last year in May of 2017, Equifax was hacked by Cyber criminals–the worst cyber attack of all-time.
The criminals stole the most sensitive information including social security numbers, mailing addresses, drivers’ license numbers and credit card numbers.
Additionally, the criminals accessed 182,000 credit report disputes. “A credit bureau dispute is your way of notifying the specific credit bureau whose report contains the questionable information, that you’re challenging the accuracy of,” explains Lexington Law, a credit repair company.
What’s the True Outcome of the Equifax Breach?
Here are the final numbers on what the criminals stole in the Equifax Data Breach of 2017:
- 146.6 million people had their date of birth and name accessed (originally it was reported that 143 million people were affected)
- 145.5 million social security numbers
- 99 million mailing addresses
- 27.3 million people had their gender exposed
- 20.3 million phone numbers
- 17.6 drivers’ license numbers
- 1.8 million email addresses
- 209,000 credit card numbers (including expiration date)
- 97,500 Tax Identification Numbers
Why didn’t Equifax notify its customers of all these details?
Equifax stated; “it wasn’t required to do a broad disclosure” and “this information wasn’t considered sensitive enough to warrant a new notification to customers.”
Wasn’t sensitive enough? Can you imagine Equifax saying that? Well, they did!
In 2017 alone, Equifax spent $163.1 million on expenses related to the 2017 cyber attack. This amount includes legal fees and free credit monitoring services that they gave to affected customers.
I guess after incurring these expenses, I can see why they would withhold specific pieces of information from the consumers affected, but in my opinion, Equifax should be as transparent as they possibly can regarding the entire matter.
Equifax’s insurance covered more than $50 million of the expenses, according to Lexology.com.
How much will Equifax spend in 2018 to clean up the aftereffects of this mess?
That number is still adding up and climbing. The cybercriminals may have unfinished business to conduct.
Criminals can use your social security number to crush your financial future, and in more ways than one.
What can criminals do with your social security number?
- Your medical records can be altered and hijacked.
- File a tax refund and get paid by the IRS in your name. According to Forbes, “As of March 5, 2016, the IRS had identified 42,148 tax returns with $227 million claimed in fraudulent refunds.
- A criminal could get arrested and use your name and social security number, giving you a criminal record. Then you go to apply for a job, and they bring this news to your attention as they reject you from employment.
- Steal your unemployment and social security benefits.
How you can protect yourself
The best way to protect yourself is to monitor your credit report.
I use Experian credit monitoring services for around $19 per month. It’s well worth it because I get alerts when my score goes up or down, and they tell you exactly why the change occurred.
This type of credit education is priceless. Maintaining proper credit can save you thousands of dollars per year in interest.
There are many options.
Another great option is to use Credit Karma, a free credit monitoring service.
3 Ways to Get Your Free Credit Report:
- Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com
- Call 877 FACTACT
- You can complete the Request Form and mail it to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act) is a federal law that enables you with the right to get a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies (Transunion, Equifax, and Experian) once per year.
So hypothetically speaking, you could get your free credit report from Transunion in January, then from Equifax in June and a third time in December from Experian.
At the very least, get your free credit report every year and review it for errors.
If you find errors or discrepancies on your credit report, contact Equifax or whatever credit reporting agency you found the error on and let them know about it. If you’re using a credit monitoring service, most of them allow you to dispute the inaccurate notation right from their online software.
Lexington Law, https://www.lexingtonlaw.com/credit-education/credit-dispute, 05/09/2018
Business Insider, 05/09/2018
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