An estimated 143 million U.S. consumers could be affected by a cybersecurity attack carried out against Equifax, one of the nation’s three largest credit-reporting companies.
Normally one of the first things victims are told to do is to go to a credit-reporting company and request their records to make sure that there are no unauthorized accounts or charges on their existing accounts.
This time around, experts suggest checking with Equifax rivals, Experian and TransUnion.
While there is no evidence of unauthorized activity in the Equifax credit reporting databases, the company said that there was potential unauthorized access to information it had stored from mid-May through July 2017. The information included names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some cases, driver’s license numbers.
The hackers also got access to credit card numbers for roughly 209,000 consumers, plus certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 consumers, Equifax said.
In the wake of this breach, experts counsel several immediate actions:
BE EXTRA CAREFUL ABOUT EMAILS AND LINKS
Users should avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from suspicious emails that claim to be updates from Equifax or connected to the breach.
Equifax will send paper mail to consumers whose credit card numbers or dispute documents with personally identifying information were impacted. It has also created a dedicated website for consumers to see if they were affected at www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. They can also call the Equifax call center at 866-447-7559.
Hackers often use news of big breaches to conduct “phishing” campaigns, sending official-looking emails that make it seem as if the affected company or other legitimate services are asking them to supply information or click through to a link to repair any damage.
When in doubt, call or email the company that appears to be sending the message separately, don’t go through the email you’ve been sent.
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Source: USA Today