Pittsburgh, PA – Equifax, one of the largest consumer credit reporting agencies in the United States, recently announced a cybersecurity breach that potentially impacts over 140 million people.
Although it’s not clear how many people in Pennsylvania have been affected, experts suggest keeping an eye on your bank and credit card statements and report anything suspicious.
According to the company’s investigation, the unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July 2017 and there is no evidence of unauthorized activity on Equifax’s core consumer or commercial credit reporting databases. However, the information accessed primarily includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers.
Your Better Business Bureau is reminding consumers of the importance in proactively and consistently monitoring online bank statements and credit card statements. If your information has been compromised, stay calm and report any irregularities as soon as possible.
“Unfortunately, this breach is one in which victims have the potential of being exposed to the risk of identity theft for quite awhile,” says Warren King, president of the Better Business Bureau of Western PA. “Scammers may not act immediately, so it’s important to remain vigilant and make a habit of monitoring your free credit reports on an annual basis.”
BBB provides the following advice in the wake of a data breach:
- Consider putting a credit freeze or fraud alert on your credit reports with the three major credit reporting agencies. A credit freeze will prevent anyone from accessing your credit report or scores. This means you cannot apply for new credit without lifting the freeze.
- Monitor your accounts regularly. Scammers often test cards with smaller charges before racking up large bills. Confirm each charge on your account line by line. Sign up for alerts on your credit card, debit and bank accounts.
- Check directly with the website of the company that was breached for the latest information. Research and consider enrolling in free identity protection services that the breached company may offer. Equifax has created equifaxsecurity2017.com for people to determine if they were impacted and enroll in free credit monitoring.
- Check your credit report at annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228. You are entitled to one free report from each credit reporting agency annually and this is the only source authorized by the Federal Trade Commission. Everyone should check their credit reports annually, whether or not they have been the victim of a data breach.
Visit bbb.org for more helpful advice in the wake of a data breach.