Credit reporting company Equifax has confirmed that the huge data breach it announced in 2017 is larger than previously thought, affecting an additional 2.4 million consumers in the United States. According to a Fox News report, new details of the data breach were announced by the company, taking the total number of consumers affected to 147.9 million.
Equifax says these additional customers had their names and part of their driver’s license numbers stolen unlike the original 145.5 million whose Social Security numbers were pilfered. The thieves were apparently not able to get information such as where the license was issued, date of issuance and expiration dates. This remains the largest data breach involving personal consumer information in history.
Security Experts Concerned
Security experts say they are disturbed by the worsening scale of the Equifax data breach calling the rising numbers “alarming.” Security experts noted the rise in these types of data breaches in spite of the increase in security investments. Four out of five breaches exploit compromised identities, stolen passwords or privileged access. But, experts say, most companies are not connecting the dots between breaches and compromised credentials despite hackers’ focus on identity. Equifax has said it will reach out all the newly impacted consumers to provide free credit monitoring and identity theft services that have been offered to the original victims.
What Can Consumers Do?
Here are a few steps affected consumers can take to protect themselves after a data breach:
- Check your credit reports from all three companies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) for free by visiting annualcreditreport.com. If you find accounts or activity you do not recognize, those are red flags that could mean your identity has been stolen.
- Consider placing a credit freeze on your files. This will make it more difficult for someone to open a new account in your name. A credit freeze, however, will not prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts.
- Carefully monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts for unauthorized charges.
- If you don’t want a credit freeze, consider placing a fraud alert on your files. This will warn creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and that they should verify if anyone seeking credit in your name is actually you.
- Contact an experienced California class action attorney who can give you more information about pursuing your legal rights.