State Senate focusing on cyber security following Equifax breach

Posted September 14, 2017

At this point, it might be inevitable.

Emily Lynch, a 38-year-old nurse from San Jose, California, had her identity stolen 10 years ago. The company said information for about 143 million customers was affected.

And it's just the latest hack.

At the end of July, Equifax discovered signs of unauthorised access to data including names, addresses and social security numbers. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said Monday some 5.4 million residents there had personal information compromised. Approximately 209,000 individuals also had their credit card numbers stolen. Equifax will notify you in the mail if this is the case.

Equifax has warned, though, that credit card numbers for about 209,000 people were exposed in the breach, as was "personal identifying information" on roughly 182,000 customers involved in credit report disputes.

One thing is certain: The actual costs to Equifax will likely go well beyond the financial costs of lawsuits and potential settlements.

First of all, don't panic.

And he sought to play down fears about how much information had been compromised.

The credit reporting companies do little to make getting a credit freeze easy: you have to ask each of them individually, pay a fee (usually) to put it in place, ask each of them specifically to lift the freeze and often pay another fee. This means you can not apply for new credit without lifting the freeze.

A credit freeze aims to block anyone from opening new accounts in your name.

All consumers should be very suspect of emails from government agencies or their financial institutions looking to confirm specific personal information or financial account information. Many experts also expect the Federal Trade Commission to launch its own investigation. "After entering all the info in the prompts, it comes back and tells you "We're unable to process your request". Start with putting a freeze on your credit. The goal is to prevent anyone from opening any new accounts. "Everyone needs to take some action", Levin advised. It will last for 90 days and can be renewed.

"The mere fact that Equifax leaked your information does not necessarily cause you harm", says Sunderlin.

Partly, I'm bitter. A decade ago, I fell victim to identity theft and a Seattle hacker with a bit of an online shopping addiction.

The bad news: So many people are freezing their credit files right that that the credit bureaus are having difficulty keeping up with the demand.

∙ Always contact your financial institution directly - by phone - to report suspicious activity on your accounts or to confirm whether they sent you a notification.

Acting FTC head Maureen Ohlhausen declined to say if that agency was investigating the breach.

Once you've cleared up the situation, remain vigilant. Melancon says keep an eye on your statements, too.

Also consider paying for an identity theft monitoring service, which will add that extra layer of protection.

"A credit freeze is only effective if applied to all three credit bureaus".

Equifax Canada did not immediately respond to requests for comment.