By Laura Mack, ProudMoney.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Equifax, one of the three major credit bureaus, suffered a computer network breach that may have exposed data of approximately 143 million customers. Since credit files exist almost exclusively for those over 18 years of age, this means that over half the U.S. adult population is likely affected.
What did the hackers get? Equifax says, “The information accessed primarily includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. In addition, credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 U.S. consumers, and certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers, were accessed.”
The data breach occurred between May and July of this year, and was discovered near the end of July. Equifax says there is no evidence yet that the stolen data has been used in any way.
The question for you is: was my data stolen? Equifax has set up a special Web site where you can input your last name and the last 6 digits of your Social Security Number to see if they believe your information was accessed. Regardless of whether your data is believed to be stolen or not, you can (and probably should) enroll in TrustedID Premier, a free service that will allow you to have your credit report monitored for suspicious activity. Equifax is not making this particularly easy, however, as you have to return at a later date in September (the date is given after you check whether you’re likely to be affected) to actually enroll, and you will be given no further reminder to do so.