The September 7th 2017 announcement of the Equifax data breach is a wakeup call that should be heeded not just by those whose data may have been stolen, but by ALL Technology Users worldwide.
This attack was predicted, but only in the general sense, like the predictions that California will suffer a massive earthquake sometime in the future. Cyber Security experts continue to predict future attacks like this one, but we can’t predict when, what the magnitude will be, or who will become the victims. We can expect that future cyber-attacks will be disruptive, costly, and make us feel angry and violated. We must prepare ourselves accordingly!
What we must reasonably do as American consumers is to prepare for a future that is out of our control. The widespread use of computers in EVERY aspect of our lives is a reality. Service providers such as Equifax, our banks, doctor’s offices, insurance companies, etc. all collect data on us. When they are unable to keep it private, we will suffer. And when cyber criminals choose to disrupt our lives by using this information with malicious intent, it will be at a time and place of their choosing. It will be planned, and they will attack our respective Achilles’ heels.
Since we can’t control who is collecting data on us, and can’t control if they will keep it safe or not, we need to take ownership and responsibility of those things that we can control. The number one action that you must take considering this breach, is to contact the four major credit reporting agencies, Experian, TransUnion, Equifax, and Innovis, and freeze access to your credit file. Follow this link for all the reasons why you need to act now and guidance on how to do it: https://www.makingtecheasy.com/2015/12/protecting-identity-theft/.
Secondly, visit https://www.annualcreditreport.com and request your free annual credit reports. This is the only source for your once-per-year free credit reports authorized by federal law. Study each report to ensure that they are accurate and there is no unusual activity. But be advised, due to the massive number of users requesting their free reports since the breach, the site may not provide the reports from all three reporting agencies, and you may have to try again later.
143 Million American consumers had their personally identifiable information stolen in this breach. 140.5 Million of you still need to act to protect your future! The next major breach may have already happened, we just don’t know about it yet!
Quick list of where to go to freeze access to your credit file:
Equifax (freeze fee waived for 30 days after the breach)
Phone: 1-800-685-1111 (NY residents please call 1-800-349-9960)