Equifax hacks put customer information at risk
Audra Reigle | Technology Editor
Equifax is one of three major credit reporting agencies in the U.S. This year, they have been facing their own cyber security issues with a hack earlier this year. The story doesn’t stop there though. A second hack occurred just after the announced that the first one happened.
The most recent hack came to light this month. This time, another part of the Equifax website was hacked, according to CBS. The credit report assistance page was taken offline, and systems were not affected because of the second hack. Equifax has also said that the portal used for customer disputes from the first hack was not affected. The first hack affected 145.5 million Americans.
The original hack occurred between May and July, but it wasn’t announced until September, according to ABC. Personal information, credit card numbers and dispute documents were accessed by the hackers. Equifax has notified affected consumers by mail.
The IRS has suspended their data security contract with Equifax following the second hack, according to CBS. The latest hack involved “malware that was aimed to get unsuspecting consumers to download fraudulent Adobe updates.” The suspension was done as a precaution as the IRS does not believe data shared with Equifax was compromised. This means new “Secure Access” accounts cannot be created, but current users won’t be affected. Other services are unaffected by the suspension.
Consumers can see if they were affected by the data breaches through the Equifax website. Even if you weren’t affected, you can enroll in TrustedID Premier for free credit monitoring. You have until Jan. 31, 2018 to enroll.
The Federal Trade Commission has offered additional tips to protect yourself in light of the Equifax breach. Consumers can check their credit reports for free through AnnualCreditReport.com. Consumers can also place a fraud alert or a credit freeze on their accounts. The fraud alert will make creditors aware that they should verify people seeking credit in your name. The credit freeze will make it harder for anyone trying to open accounts in your name to do so. This doesn’t stop them from making charges to existing accounts, so you should monitor your credit and bank accounts for any charges you don’t recognize. It’s also recommended to file your taxes as soon as you can to prevent any scammers from using your information to get your tax refund.