Equifax announced a giant cybersecurity data hack that has compromised the personal information of as many as 143 million Americans. This amounts to nearly 50% of the country.
Cyber criminals have accessed sensitive information — including names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and the numbers of some driver’s licenses.
Additionally, Equifax said that credit card numbers for about 209,000 U.S. customers were exposed, as was “personal identifying information” on roughly 182,000 U.S. customers involved in credit report disputes. Residents in the U.K. and Canada were also impacted.
The breach occurred between mid-May and July, Equifax said. The company said it discovered the hack on July 29.
The data breach is one of the worst ever, by its reach and by the kind of information exposed to the public.
How to Check if You Were Affected
Equifax recommends that you sign up for credit file monitoring and identity theft protection. It is providing free service for one year through TrustedID Premier — whether or not you’ve been affected by the breach.
To enroll, go to www.equifaxsecurity2017.com and click on the Check Potential Impact tab. You must submit your last name and last six digits of your Social Security number there. At that point you’ll be given a date when you can return to the site and sign up for the service.
We also recommends that you review account statements and credit reports yourself to check for incidents of fraud. You can request a copy of your credit report online at www.annualcreditreport.com. You are allowed a free copy once a year from each of the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Related: What is a FICO Score?