Caution, vigilance recommended in wake of data breach

Caution, vigilance recommended in wake of data breach

On July 29, 2017, Equifax discovered that hackers had exploited a vulnerability in one of Equifax's online portals and gained access to the personal information of 143 million consumers nationwide.

Since the announcement of the cyberattack - which compromised Social Security numbers, driver's license numbers, credit card numbers and addresses - Equifax shares have fallen more than 30 percent.

The Federal Trace Commission is investigating credit reporting agency Equifax for a massive data breach that left the personal financial data of 13 million Americans at risk of theft.

Equifax said that it would send letters to about 390,000 of the victims who either had credit card numbers or credit dispute statements affected.

Cronin also stressed the importance of continuing to keep an eye on things into the future, because hackers know that the breach has been all over the news, he said they'll likely wait months or even a year to try to use your information. The company's credit monitoring and identity theft protection service, dubbed TrustedID, was offered to consumers for free for up to one year, but the terms of service contained confusing language that appeared to prohibit class-action lawsuits against Equifax - though the company later clarified its TOS.

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The data breach made major headlines, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner is investigating and people in Canada and the US are filing class action lawsuits. After a breach, a scammer may commit tax identity theft by using your Social Security number to file a tax return and steal your tax refund.

Consumers are being urged to place a security "freeze" on their credit reports to protect them from cyber thieves. "We always tell people, you've got to watch your account". Accounts or activity you don't recognize could indicate identity theft, especially accounts opened recently.

I'm not a big fan of credit freezes. She said she could only help me enroll in a credit monitoring service.

If you'd rather contact Equifax by phone, dial 1-800-349-9960. With their product, you control and protect your identity.

To make a credit freeze truly effective, you'll need to request one from all three major credit reporting bureaus - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.