Equifax takes more steps to help victims of system breach

Equifax breach could cost hundreds of millions of dollars, says Forrester analyst

The credit bureau said Thursday that hackers had accessed information such as birth dates and Social Security numbers for about 143 million US customers, and that it first detected the attack on July 29.

"There will be an avalanche of consumer cases", said Yanchunis, who also leads litigation in California against Yahoo over hackings affecting more than 1 billion users, though involving less sensitive data.

But if you do decide to trust Equifax's janky hack discovery website, you will be asked to enter the last 6 digits of your social security number, in order to enroll in TrustedID Premier, a "complimentary identity theft protection and credit file monitoring product".

There was a catch: the supposedly free service required credit card information up front and would begin charging the card after the free trial ended unless users proactively canceled, according to terms of use for the product dated September 6.

The three executives "sold a small percentage" of their stock and "had no knowledge that an intrusion had occurred at the time", Ines Gutzmer, a spokeswoman for Atlanta-based Equifax, said in an emailed statement late Thursday.

Initially, though, there was a catch - signing up would also commit you to binding arbitration with the credit monitor, which would mean giving up your right to sue. Large breaches like this attract scammers and criminals who try to obtain your personal information by posing as the company who experienced the breach and/or the company providing credit and identity monitoring services as a result of the breach. Use it as another layer of protection when logging into your email account and financial websites. If so, sign up for them. The only other entities that are allowed to see your credit report at this point are government agencies carrying out a search warrant or subpoena, and yourself, if you're trying to access the free credit report that is entitled to you once per year per credit bureau. Except perhaps the credit card info which they may put to nefarious use. If you notice anything inaccurate, notify the appropriate bureau immediately.

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Go to each of the three major national credit bureaus and freeze your credit. This will stop hackers from creating new accounts under your name.

If you haven't pulled a copy of your credit report lately, now is the time. Often, victims of identity theft can freeze their credit at no charge. A fraud alert, in contrast, doesn't actually do much.

There are steps to take to help protect your information from being misused.

-Place a fraud alert on your files to make it hard for a scammer to steal your identity.

You'll be directed to a screen that lists the steps of the process.

"It's far from a ideal solution - freezing and unfreezing isn't slick - but short of changing your SSN and date of birth it's probably your best protection". If it is not possible to provide the information at the same time, the information may be provided in phases "without undue further delay". Taking some or all of the steps above also can not fully guarantee that you will never experience any form of identity theft, but you will be more aware of potential problems before they become larger ones.

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