On September 7, 2017 Equifax disclosed that they discovered a data breach on July 29, 2017 and it may have impacted 143 million consumers in the United States. Equifax is one of the 3 main organizations in the U.S. that calculates credit scores, so it has access to an extraordinary amount of personal and financial data for virtually every American adult.
The company stated that hackers accessed data between mid-May and July through a vulnerability in a web application. They were able to obtain names, Social Security Numbers, birth dates, addresses, some driver’s license numbers, and about 209,000 credit card numbers. Additionally 182,000 “dispute documents” containing personal identifying data were compromised in the breach. They have not indicated who is behind the breach and the investigation is ongoing. Equifax is maintaining that its core credit reporting databases were unaffected.
The reason why this data breach is so severe is because nearly half of the U.S. population has been impacted and most likely will feel the impact of the breach for years to come, especially when it comes to information that does not change, i.e. your Social Security Number.
Equifax has established a dedicated website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com – to help consumers determine if their information has been potentially impacted and to sign up for credit file monitoring and identity theft protection. The offering, called TrustedID Premier, includes 3-Bureau credit monitoring of Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit reports; copies of Equifax credit reports; the ability to lock and unlock Equifax credit reports; identity theft insurance; and Internet scanning for Social Security numbers – all complimentary to U.S. consumers for one year. The website also provides additional information on steps consumers can take to protect their personal information.
Equifax recommends that consumers with additional questions visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.com or contact a dedicated call center at 866-447-7559, which the company set up to assist consumers. The call center is open every day (including weekends) from 7:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m. Eastern standard time. In addition to the website, Equifax will send direct mail notices to consumers whose credit card numbers or dispute documents with personal identifying information were impacted.
Don’t wait until it’s too late! Be sure to enroll in First Financial’s Identity Theft Protection Program from Sherpa. The best part? You can enroll right online, 24/7. You can trust in First Financial and Sherpa to help keep your personal information protected. Packages begin at just $5.99 per month – so click here to enroll today! Learn more about safeguarding your identity with our consumer identity theft protection guide.
Enroll your First Financial Debit/Credit Cards in Visa Purchase Alerts – you’ll get an email each time your Debit Card is used over an amount you set, when your card is used outside the country, or when your card is used to make a purchase online or over the phone. Credit Cardholders also have the additional option of adding a text alert, this can be set-up in Online Banking under your Credit Card account (select the Communications tab and then Visa Transaction Alerts).
As always, First Financial monitors our member accounts for suspicious activity. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please give us a call at 732.312.1500 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*9/11/17 Update – Please be advised that should you elect to sign up for Equifax’s one year of credit monitoring, you may be giving up your right to sue the company for the incident, and you could be prevented from joining a class-action lawsuit.
The language was laid out in the original terms of service by Equifax:
AGREEMENT TO RESOLVE ALL DISPUTES BY BINDING INDIVIDUAL ARBITRATION. PLEASE READ THIS ENTIRE SECTION CAREFULLY BECAUSE IT AFFECTS YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS BY REQUIRING ARBITRATION OF DISPUTES (EXCEPT AS SET FORTH BELOW) AND A WAIVER OF THE ABILITY TO BRING OR PARTICIPATE IN A CLASS ACTION, CLASS ARBITRATION, OR OTHER REPRESENTATIVE ACTION. ARBITRATION PROVIDES A QUICK AND COST EFFECTIVE MECHANISM FOR RESOLVING DISPUTES, BUT YOU SHOULD BE AWARE THAT IT ALSO LIMITS YOUR RIGHTS TO DISCOVERY AND APPEAL.
On 9/11/17 Equifax provided an update on their website to state:
Adjusted the TrustedID Premier and Clarified Equifax.com