If you've been keeping track of recent news, you might be aware of the massive security breach that reportedly took place at Equifax, the credit reporting company. In an announcement made by the company on Thursday, it was alleged that hackers had illegally retrieved personal information from the company's enormous database comprising roughly 143 million Americans. The company claimed the hackers had "exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files." If you are curious to know about the security status of your information, here is how you can contact Equifax.
If you already have an account with Equifax and wish to freeze it, simply call their number 1-800-349-9960. It only takes a few minutes to complete the call, which is normally automated. If you want to set a fraud alert, you can call Equifax at 1-888-766-0008. This will give you the option to set a fraud alert for the next 90 days. Just keep a pen and paper nearby. You can apply for the same method for your loved ones in case you fear that someone you know was also exposed in the security breach.
The company itself has tried to offer help to potentially affected Americans by offering cost-free access to its Trusted ID Premier business program. The option allows users to conduct free credit monitoring in order to check if their private information had been compromised in the recent attack.
The company claimed that it had knowledge of the hacking event as early as July, though it informed the public of the massive data breach only in September. As consumers scramble to find ways to protect themselves from identify theft and fraud, Equifax has issued a statement regarding the event and expressed concern over the breach of privacy and security.
CEO Richard Smith said, "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." So far, the company has yet to publicly identify those behind the act.
Reports on Equifax's hacking incident allege that some 209,000 credit card numbers were illegally obtained from the company's database along with Social Security Numbers and people's date of births, making the recent attack one of the biggest breaches in history. In the past, hackers have taken advantage of vulnerabilities present within a company's security system, with examples from Office of Personnel Management, Yahoo!, and MySpace. So, while the breach is shocking and worrisome, it isn't new.
In spite of the subsequent chaos following the Equifax security breach, there are things you can do to prevent any fraud carried out on your behalf. Experts advise affected people to monitor their credit in order to keep a constant eye on their finances. This is highly helpful in tracking and spotting any kind of activity being executed in your name. With Equifax's currently free service, people should be able to monitor their credit activity and report anything that seems to be out of the normal.
In addition to that, another effective option to shield yourself from any further hacking activity is by freezing your credit. When you freeze your credit, your block access to those trying to view your credit score or report. This inhibits potential attackers from pulling your credit, which criminals need for opening fake accounts with your private information.
In our vastly virtual world, personal or company negligence toward how we disseminate and handle our personal information can prove to be devastating, as is evident in the case of Equifax. For now, monitoring and freezing your credit could prove to be the best ways to protect your information.