What Did Thieves Steal in the Equifax Data Breach? Now, we know
We now know exactly what thieves stole in the massive Equifax data breach, which compromised millions of consumers’ personal information including Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, names and dates of birth. According to a report in The Washington Post, this week, in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the company has offered its most detailed analysis disclosing how many consumers were affected and providing a breakdown of which types of information were stolen.
What Was Stolen?
Here are the highlights of what we’ve learned:
- Names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers were the most common types of data stolen in the breach.
- Mailing addresses, phone numbers and about 2 million email addresses were stolen.
- About 209,000 credit card numbers and card-expiration dates were also taken.
- More than 3,000 passports, 38,000 driver’s licenses, and 12,000 Social Security numbers or taxpayer ID cards were accessed.
- Many victims had multiple types of information stolen.
What Steps Can You Take?
First, find out if your information was exposed. You can do so by visiting the Equifax website. You need to enter your Social Security number to find out. So, be sure you are on a secure computer and an encrypted network connection when you do so. Whether or not your information was exposed, U.S. consumers can get a year of free credit monitoring and other services. Check your credit reports from all three major credit-reporting companies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). It’s free when you visit annualcreditreport.com. Accounts or activity that you did not recognize or authorize should raise red flags.
Consider placing a credit freeze on your files. This essentially makes it more difficult for an identity thief to open a new account in your name. A credit freeze, however, will not prevent a thief from making changes to your existing accounts. Monitor your existing bank accounts and credit card accounts closely for any unauthorized charges. A “fraud alert” can also help warn you about identity theft.
If you have become the victim of a data breach and/or identity theft, please remember that you have legal rights. You may be able to join a class action lawsuit against the corporation that failed to protect your precious personal information.