Equifax, one of the largest credit reporting agencies in the United States, was recently the victim of a massive cyber-attack—an attack that may have compromised the personal information of 143 million people.
Impacted individuals were not simply limited to the United States either, as the hackers gained unauthorised access to personal information of certain Canadian residents and 44 million Britons. Initial reports suggest 209,000 credit card numbers were stolen in the attack, some of which may belong to international customers.
The breach itself occurred between mid-May and July 2017 when cyber-criminals gained access to sensitive data by exploiting a weak point in website software. In the United States, sensitive information like Social Security numbers (National Insurance numbers), birthdays, addresses and driving licence numbers were compromised.
The recent attack on Equifax is the third major cyber-security threat the organisation has experienced since 2015 and one of the largest risks to personally sensitive information in recent years. The attack is so severe, in fact, it’s likely that anyone with a credit report was affected.
The Information Commissioner’s Office issued a statement on Friday, 8 September, telling Equifax to alert British residents ‘at the earliest opportunity’ if their personal information was compromised.
If you are concerned that you may have been impacted by the breach, Equifax has set up a website to help individuals determine if any of their personal information may have been stolen.
It should be noted that it may not be obvious that you are a customer of Equifax, as the company gets its data from credit card companies, banks and lenders that report on credit activity. As such, it’s important to follow the appropriate steps and check to see if your information was compromised.
Additionally, you should review your online bank and credit card statements on a weekly basis. This will help you monitor any suspicious activity.
Equifax will work with regulators in Canada and the United Kingdom to determine appropriate next steps. PIB Insurance Brokers will continue to monitor the Equifax cyber-incident, providing any major updates as necessary.