When the news that Equifax had a data breach was first to come out, people initially thought that “This is very bad.” In the days since then, the news has not gotten much enhanced. The implications are fundamentally permanent. Since the breach affected 143 million Americans and thousands of Canadians more than half of all the adults who live in the respective countries. But what we need to assume that our most private data is no longer secure.
Equifax is a credit and other information supplying service discovered a security breach that may have to affect the information of about 143 million U.S. consumers and expose the personal information of about 100,000 Canadian consumers.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the immense majority i.e. 86 percent of instances of identity larceny have been related to exploitation of existing accounts, credit cards or bank accounts ‘Victims of Identity Theft, 2014’. This means that people with privileged and higher annual incomes were more at risk than households with lesser incomes. Now that social security numbers, dates of birth and addresses are out there, believing that there may be a bigger risk of identity larceny involving new accounts or exploitation of personal information (including income tax identity theft). This could mean that lower-income households will face a higher risk than they have ever had as they are less likely to keep an eye on their credit reports and may not case a tax return at all.
There are numerous precautions that we can obtain to protect ourselves against data breached.
Is putting credit freeze rightful?
Just think about putting a credit freeze on your accounts, this will make it tougher for someone to open new credit in your name, but this will only work if you place the freeze with all three credit reporting agencies which are Equifax, Transunion, and Experian and if in the future, you want new credit, you can temporarily raise the freeze at one or all of the agencies by providing the PIN that they will allot you when you ask for the freeze. It is very important that you do not misplace this PIN and that you make it safe. Equifax has temporarily relinquished their fee for any freezes placed till November 21. If your residence is in New York, it is free to place a credit freeze. You can check your state and the costs related to Guide to Security Freeze Protection.
If you don’t want to put a credit freeze on your accounts, place a fraud alert. Dissimilarly with credit freezes, if you put a fraud alert with one agency, they are required to inform the other two agencies. A fraud alert allows creditors know that you may be a sufferer of identity larceny and requires that they take additional steps to make certain that the person requesting the credit is you.
Pore over your credit reports
Do scrutinize and request your credit reports from each reporting agency once a year. You can do this online at annualcreditreport.com, but suggestions are that you check one agency every four months and for better, review the report for correctness and make positive all of the accounts listed are accounts that you opened. If any of the accounts are not yours, report it to the credit reporting agency and start on the process for reporting an identity theft on identitytheft.gov.
Password manager: your security, hacker’s nuisance
Better use a password manager. You should also change all of your financial account’s password to do something less hackable. These password managers can produce a password that is a random mixture of letters, numbers and special characters, which security experts believed are more difficult to break.
Tax return filing is a mandatory
However, there is one more thing that can make it more complicated for someone to take your identity that files your tax return as early as possible. To date, income tax identity theft has been a moderately small percentage of all instances of identity theft and has been going down. With the Equifax breach, however, that trend might be changing.
The Equifax breach is creepy and will echo for years because we can’t just change our social security numbers like we can a password. With cautions, watchfulness, and taking the above steps, however, we can diminish any damage and trim down our risk.
A trip down to Equifax memory lane
Equifax was established in Atlanta, GA, as Retail Credit Company in 1899. The company rose promptly and by 1920 it had its official work throughout the US and Canada. By the 1960s, Retail Credit Company was one of the nation’s largest credit bureaus, holding files on millions of American and Canadian citizens. Even though the company persistent to do credit reporting, the bulk of their business was making reports to insurance companies when people applied for new insurance policies including life, fire, auto and medical and health insurance.
All of the major insurance companies used RCC to get information on health, habits, morals, use of vehicles and finances. They also probed insurance asserts and claims and made service and employment reports when people were looking for new jobs. Most of the credit work was then being done by a contributory, Retailers Commercial Agency.
Equifax got hold of Anakam, an identity confirmation software company, in October 2010.
In October 2011, Equifax pays for eThority, a business intelligence (BI) company headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina, eThority is partnering with TALX, a St. Louis-based business unit of Equifax, and will remain in Charleston.
While technically TrustedID is owned by Equifax Inc., its terms and conditions of service are different from those provided by Equifax so do its services are separate from Equifax, but what is out of the ordinary about trustedid.com is that it didn’t always belong to Equifax. According to the TrustedID Wikipedia page site, TrustedID Inc. was sold to Equifax in 2013, but it was set up in 2004 as an identity protection company which offered a check & service that let consumers automatically ‘freeze’ their credit file at the major bureaus. A freeze prevents Equifax and the other major credit bureaus from selling out an individual’s credit data without first getting consumer approval.
By 2006, some 17 states presented clients the ability to freeze their credit files while some other identity monitoring firms such as LifeLock were by then offering services that automated the placement of identity fraud controls such as the “fraud alert,” a free service that customers can request to block creditors from screening their credit files.
Anyway, the era of identity monitoring services automating things like fraud alerts and freezes on behalf of consumers effectively is about to die after a landmark lawsuit cased by big-three bureau Experian.
In 2008, Experian filed a suit on LifeLock, in disagreement that its practice of automating fraud alerts violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
In 2009, a court to be noticed in favor of Experian, and that decision effectively eradicated such services primarily because none of the banks wanted to allocate them and to be purchased by them as a service anymore.
Equifax Workforce Solutions is one of the 55 freelancers and contractor hired by the United States Department of Health and Human Services to exertion on the HealthCare.gov website.
Author Bio: Peter Buttler is a Professional Security Expert and Journalist contributing to digital privacy and cybersecurity publications for six years. He conducts interviews with security authorities to present expert opinions on the latest security affairs. While writing, Peter emphasizes on latest security and technology trends that are directly related to individuals’ privacy. You can follow him on Twitter @peter_buttlr.
Peter Buttler is a guest blogger, all opinions are his own.