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Huge Equifax data breach affects almost 148 million Americans (updated)
Check if you’ve been comprised ASAP. Here’s how.
Equifax was recently hit by a massive data breach, and your personal information may have been stolen.
The credit card reporting agency said 143 million people, or more than one in three Americans, had their data compromised. The company says hackers exploited an application vulnerability between mid-May and July this year, gaining access to names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver’s licenses. To make matters worse, more than 200,000 U.S. customers had their credit card info stolen and hackers accessed dispute documents with personal info of 182,000 people.
Unauthorized hackers also took information from Canada and U.K. citizens, but Equifax claims no “unauthorized activity” was discovered.
“This is clearly a disappointing event for our company and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do. I apologize to consumers and our business customers for the concern and frustration this causes,” said Richard Smith, Equifax chairman and chief executive officer via statement. “We pride ourselves on being a leader in managing and protecting data, and we are conducting a thorough review of our overall security operations. We also are focused on consumer protection and have developed a comprehensive portfolio of services to support all U.S. consumers, regardless of whether they were impacted by this incident.”
Equifax claims it discovered the breach on July 29 and patched the vulnerability while conducting an extensive investigation to determine the extent of the damage.
The company set up a website that will tell you if you’ve been compromised (sorry, you’ll have to give them the last six of your SSN). Just use this link (WARNING: There are reports that signing up this link could waive your right to joining class action suits against Equifax). Equifax will also send out emails to customers who were directly affected.
Security breaches are growing more common, but it’s rare to see stolen social security numbers and driver’s license info. Equifax says it’s working with law enforcement to investigate the breach.
Update 10am CT, March 1: Equifax now says that 2.4 million more people, on top of a previously acknowledged 145.5 million, have been affected by last year’s security breach. This new, smaller class of people had their names and part of their driver’s license numbers compromised, but not the state of issuance, expiration date, or other information. Equifax says it will contact the newly affected people and offer the same credit monitoring services as before.
This story has been updated.
Phillip Tracy is a former technology staff writer at the Daily Dot. He's an expert on smartphones, social media trends, and gadgets. He previously reported on IoT and telecom for RCR Wireless News and contributed to NewBay Media magazine. He now writes for Laptop magazine.