Data breach hacks have become a regular headline in recent years, as companies holding sensitive consumer information have struggled to fend off attacks from cyber-criminals. While you might be feeling indifferent about the latest—a breach of the credit monitoring firm Equifax—you should be aware that it's a particularly large e-heist, affecting nearly two-thirds of the country's population. Social security numbers and driver's license IDs were part of the haul, making identify theft a very real and looming threat for 143 million Americans.
To help consumers determine if their information was disclosed, Equifax has set up a website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. Users on the site can enter their name and the last six digits of their social security number and know immediately whether any personal data was breached. Equifax is also offering credit monitoring via TrustedID Premier, which can track suspicious or unauthorized activity on your credit report, provide ID theft insurance, and even scan the web for mentions of your social security number.
If your information was compromised, experts recommend taking two steps. First, consider freezing access to your credit profiles at the three major reporting bureaus—Equifax, Transunion, and Experian. That will prevent anyone (including you) from opening new accounts. Second, services like Lifelock can help walk you through remedies for any potential identity theft.
There's no easy solution for the breach, and consumers may be disheartened to hear that their exposed personal information could circulate on the black market for years to come. But monitoring your score and taking advantage of the resources offered by Equifax can help minimize the damage.