Equifax cyber-attack exposes data of 143 million consumers

Connecticut Better Business Bureau says consumers have legitimate reasons to be worried about a successful cyber-attack against Equifax, one of the largest credit monitoring and reporting companies in America.

The hackers were able to capture the most sensitive personal and financial information on almost half of the US population. They were able to obtain all of the details necessary for Equifax to rate the financial history and lending risk of individuals, according to Better Business Bureau spokesman Howard Schwartz.

"This information includes the basic building blocks of identity theft, such as consumers' names, addresses and Social Security Numbers, however, the credit monitoring companies also store crucial information about consumers' loan details, credit cards, child support payments, employment history and much more."

"Ironically, consumers will often pull their credit reports from Equifax, Experian and Trans-Union to determine whether they are the victim of identity theft, by looking for unauthorized lines of credit. The scope of this data breach is startling," said Schwartz. 

Equifax says the breach occurred between mid-May and July, 2017, and was discovered July 29.

Equifax is the second credit monitoring company to suffer a data breach. The second largest of these companies, Experian was hacked in 2015, giving cyber thieves access to personal data on 15 million Americans.

According to one report, the chief security researcher for SecurityScorecard, commenting in Forbes said the same web vulnerabilities used to launch many recent cyber attacks have been used successfully for decades.

Equifax says it will provide free credit monitoring services for victims. You will find more information on dealing with the aftermath of a data breach at bbb.org/breach.

You can check your credit reports from all three of the credit monitoring companies free of charge at annualcreditreport.com, or by telephone at 877-322-8228.