In a NutshellThe credit reporting agency finds hackers stole more than previously reported. Here's what you can do to protect yourself and your data.
Equifax has identified another 2.4 million Americans whose data was compromised last year in a massive breach that now totals 147.9 million victims.
The revelations come as the credit reporting company continues investigating the cyberattack that exposed Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver’s license numbers.
What does this mean?
Consumers who weren’t previously identified as victims of the breach, which was revealed in September 2017, could be at risk. The cyberattack, which occurred between May and July of 2017, was said last year to have affected up to 143 million U.S. consumers.
Why should you care?
Data breaches can seriously affect your finances. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what information hackers might have, and when or how they may use it. Even if you were already identified as a victim of this data breach, you may not see any signs of fraudulent activity for months, if ever.
Hackers can use your personal information to open up new credit cards, take out auto loans under your name or even drain your bank accounts. The process to repair the damage can be costly and become a huge headache, so it’s important to keep an eye out for suspicious activity.
What can you do?
Equifax has set up a website — equifaxsecurity2017.com — to let you see whether your personal information was stolen in the initial breach. Just click the red box: “Am I Impacted?” Equifax will be notifying newly identified breach victims by mail.
Whether your personal information was compromised or not, you can be proactive in protecting yourself and your personal information. Following these tips can help you mitigate any potential damage from this breach or others.
- Use free credit monitoring tools like Credit Karma’s free Credit Monitoring. This is a useful tool to get notified if Credit Karma notices important changes on your TransUnion or Equifax credit files — like a new account or address change.
- Obtain a copy of your credit reports. You can obtain your full credit report from each of the three major consumer credit reporting bureaus once every 12 months.
- Freeze your credit. A security freeze is a great way to stop anyone from using your personal information to take out a loan or new credit card in your name because it prevents potential lenders from accessing your credit files. This will also make you unable to do the same — unless you unfreeze your credit reports first.