The Equifax breach is a big one. The company holds the credit reports of over 143 million US consumers, and those reports have all our most valuable information. They are suggesting that you should not wait to determine if your information was breached to take action to prevent identity fraud. You should start with the assumption that you are a victim.
The breach lasted from mid-May through July. The hackers accessed people’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. They also stole credit card numbers for about 209,000 people and dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 people. And they grabbed personal information of people in the UK and Canada too.
What Do I Do Now?
Here are some steps from the Federal Trade Commission to take to help protect yourself after a data breach:
- Check your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — for free — by visiting annualcreditreport.com. Accounts or activity that you don’t recognize could indicate identity theft. Visit IdentityTheft.gov to find out what to do.
- Consider placing a credit freeze on your files. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. Keep in mind that a credit freeze won’t prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts.
Monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts closely for charges you don’t recognize.
- If you decide against a credit freeze, consider placing a fraud alert on your files. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and that they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name really is you.
- File your taxes early — as soon as you have the tax information you need, before a scammer can. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. Respond right away to letters from the IRS.
- Visit Identitytheft.gov/databreach to learn more about protecting yourself after a data breach.
The key to catching an identity thief is vigilance. Paying attention to your credit reports and unusual financial activity can help you minimize the potential damage a thief can do.
Data Security is Critical
As providers of IT related services, we know that data is the most valuable asset a business can have. Security breaches are becoming a common state of affairs, between ransomware, malware, and phishing attacks. You, and your staff, must follow best practices for data security to ensure your company and client data is protected.
Great Lakes Computer can help you get the protection you need. We offer a wide range of security products from antivirus to HIPAA compliance assessments. Contact us today to ensure your data has best-in-class protection.