On September 7, 2017, Equifax Inc. announced that it had experienced a security breach of approximately 143 million US consumers’ private data, including names, Social Security Numbers, credit card data, driver’s license information and birth dates.
Equifax is one of the three primary credit data companies in the US and maintains up to date information on consumers’ most private non-health information.
Why This Matters to You
This is obviously a very serious situation, because thieves with this level of detailed information can pose as you not just to steal money from your accounts, but also to take out loans in your name and other activities which will severely impact your credit score. Even if the financial losses are forgiven, the impact to your credit score may take a long time to fix and will make it hard to get a mortgage or other loans. Any loan applications in process could also be disrupted or denied improperly.
What You Can Do About It
We are making you aware of this situation because there are a number of recommended actions that you can take to minimize any possible identity theft.
- Equifax is offering to check the impact on your personal records. You must register your name and social security number at https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/am-i-impacted/.
- Be Careful. Equifax is offering TrustedID free credit monitoring. However, the standard forms to accept the monitoring require that you trade off your right to sue Equifax and accept arbitration instead. You can opt out of this arbitration clause, but it requires careful reading to make the selection. We do not recommend that you accept arbitration and waive your right to sue Equifax.
- You can purchase credit monitoring on your own from a number of sources.
- You should check your credit reports. A free service is available at https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action.
- You can “freeze” your credit file and generate fraud alerts for the credit agencies. This will deny criminals access to your credit reports and alert creditors to verify your identity more carefully. Each inquiry into your credit report will require you to specifically authorize access with a PIN code or the like. There are some small charges associated with this. Freezing is not recommended, however, for people that might require frequent credit inquiries, as the costs may mount up. More information about credit freezes is available from the Federal Trade Commission at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs.
Business Owners Should Take Proactive Security Measurers
Every business has data that is valuable to thieves. Health insurance information, Social Security numbers and other private data. Many businesses store information in conjunction with or provide access to their customers’ and vendors’ IT systems. In most cases, the party handling or storing data is responsible for its loss. The Equifax breach shows us that no company is really as safe as they think and that there is no way to absolutely guard against theft. Defense against thieves is a process, not a static situation and every business needs regular security updates and dynamic procedures for minimizing the risk of loss.
We can help. We offer a broad range of review services which include partnering with IT experts to assess your vulnerabilities and minimize data loss risk from both a legal and technical perspective.
Please feel free to circulate this e-mail to friends, family and employees.