Credit monitoring company, Equifax, announced its database had been breached exposing millions of Americans to potential ID Theft. It’s been reported that an unknown number of Canadians and those in Britain have also been affected. The Atlanta-based company, one of three major credit bureaus in the United States, says "criminals" exploited a U.S. website application to access files between mid-May and July of this year.
The concern, of course, is that credit bureaus store a lot of information such as names, birthdates, addresses, and most importantly, social insurance numbers. Equifax claims information related to credit scores was not affected by the breach.
What kind of information has been breached?
- Consumers' names
- Social Insurance Numbers
What can happen if your information has been exposed?
- Risk of identity theft: If your personal information falls into the wrong hands, criminals can commit fraudulent activity, or apply for new credit, property titles or loans under your name without your knowledge.
- Lost funds: Your bank accounts can be completely drained within a matter of minutes, or smaller amounts withdrawn over an extended period of time.
In the wake of a data breach, BBB encourages consumers to take the following action:
- Check credit reports and account statements - Check your bank account, credit card statements and credit report regularly to spot suspicious or unauthorized charges early.
- Act quickly - You need to act fast to dispute the charges and to limit your liability for charges or withdrawals you did not authorize. Many credit card providers have "zero liability" protection after you report the loss or theft of your credit card or having your card compromised in a breach. Some credit card providers may have a limited time frame to report or dispute such charges.
- Monitor your accounts - It is important to routinely monitor your credit and banks statements. It is not necessary to pay for expensive monitoring or fraud detection services. You can check your credit report by contacting your bank or credit card provider.
- Avoid fake emails - Do not respond to emails you may receive with offers to help you in an attack. Many of these emails may be phishing emails created by scammers. Do not click on any links or provide any personal information that may be requested. If you have concerns personally, contact your financial institution or credit card issuer to verify the email is from them.
- Consider credit freezes/alerts - Putting a credit freeze on your account will prevent any lender from accessing your credit reports or scores as part of a credit application.This means you cannot apply for new credit without lifting the freeze. A fraud alert flags your credit reports, alerting potential lenders to verify the identity of anyone attempting to open an account in your name.
How to find out if your information has been exposed:
Media Contact :
Ron Mycholuk, Marketing and Sales Manager
780.488.6632 ext. 233