Does The Equifax Hack Affect Me? Here's How To Tell

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The credit reporting company Equifax reportedly came under cyber assault after hackers illegally obtained highly personal information from the agency's database, consisting of nearly 143 million Americans. The report was made public after Equifax announced the news on Thursday and said criminals "exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files." Details about the massive security breach are still emerging and some may be wondering if they were part of the demographic hit by the attack. In order to see if you were affected by the Equifax hack, here's what you can do.

According to Equifax, if you're interested in finding out whether your information was exposed to external and illegal parties, you should sign up for its Trusted ID Premier business option. At this moment, the company is offering the service at no cost, including free credit monitoring, so you should make use of it right away. It's an open and zero-dollar source of verification for anyone interested in finding out whether their privacy was breached.

All you need to do is visit the website and head to the Check Potential Impact tab. After providing your last name and the last six numbers of your Social Security Number, you will find out whether you were one of the people affected in the security breach (hopefully, you weren't).

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Technical reports about the Equifax hacking allege that some 143 million American consumers were compromised. The cyber assault is considered one of the biggest security breaches and malfunctions in history, close to examples like security breaches at Yahoo!, MySpace, Office of Personnel Management, and some health insurance companies.

According to the company, it had existing knowledge of the hacking incident in July but decided to inform the public in September. Reports detail that incredibly private information such as consumer Social Security Numbers, date of births, and around 209,000 credit card numbers were stolen by the hackers. The company claimed that it would send notices to those who had been impacted via mail in order to help them retrieve their information.

In addition to using the absolutely free opportunity to monitor your credit, you should also keep an eye on your finances. Maintain an accessible-only-to-you record of credit applications that only you have applied for. By doing so, you can see whether there is any irregular activity being conducted on your behalf. If you see something out of the ordinary, report it immediately to authorities. Keeping an eye on your records so actively gives you the chance to freeze such an illegal and non-consensual act right away.

So far and to the growing dismay of the American public, the company has yet to name the criminals behind the hacking incident. After making the announcement, Equifax expressed concern in a public statement from CEO Richard Smith:

This is clearly a disappointing event for our company, and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do. I apologize to consumers and our business customers for the concern and frustration this causes.

The distressing hacking incident at Equifax is a timely reminder that we need to be more careful and vigilant about the information we share in an increasingly virtual world. Breaches like that at Equifax are nothing new; as long as there is a website, there is a hacker.

But it is worth noting that criminals are only capable of attacking websites when they see a myriad of vulnerabilities. From personal negligence in the form of openly sharing information online to a company's very own carelessness, any weak spot on the Internet is a terribly ripe site for criminals to exploit. Keep your eyes open and your information well-guarded.