According to AP, Equifax has admitted that an additional 2.5 million Americans may have been affected by the massive security breach of its systems, bringing the total to 145.5 million people who had their personal information accessed or stolen.
The information stolen earlier this year included names, social security numbers, birth dates, and addresses. This is the kind of information that puts people at high risk for identity theft.
The update comes as Equifax’s former CEO, Richard Smith, who announced his retirement last month, will testify in front of Congress starting Tuesday. He’s expected to face bipartisan anger from politicians who have expressed outrage that a company tasked with securing vast amount of personal data was unable to keep their security software up to date.
In a prepared testimony, he apologized and said human error and technology failures allowed the data breach. He also apologized for the way the company handled the announcement of what happened.
Equifax also faces several states and federal inquires. Additionally, numerous class-action law suits as well as individual suits from at least one state and several cities have been initiated.
An apology from the CEO and law suits from state, city and federal agencies will do little to change the fact that in all likelihood, you are at risk for identity theft.
What can/should you do?
If you are not sure your info has been accessed, you can protect yourself by putting a fraud alert on your credit profile. This will ear-mark your credit profile as “on alert” and will go a long way from preventing anyone other than yourself from opening accounts.
If you know that your info has been accessed, then you will want to put a freeze on your credit profile instead of a fraud alert. A freeze will result in your receiving a secret number that will have to be used to open an account. This is a huge form of protection for you because only you will have the secret number, disallowing any criminal from successfully using information about you that was gotten as a result of the Equifax breach.
For help with these very important processes, please call our office for assistance. We can be reached at 805.619.5200.