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2017 Equifax Breach FAQ

By Josh Scott

  • What is Equifax?
    • Equifax is one of the three oldest and largest consumer credit reporting agencies in the United States. The other two are Experian and TransUnion. Credit Reporting Agencies collect data on consumers and create credit worthiness reports that business-service-providers use to determine the risk in extending credit to a consumer. If an individual applies for a loan or a credit card, the business-service-provider will often obtain a report from a credit bureau (or multiple) as part of its decision process.
  • What kinds of information does Equifax collect?
    • Equifax collects demographic information (age, gender, race, income, marital status, employment status, nationality and political preferences), personal information (date of birth, family member names, Social Security Numbers, Driver’s License information), and financial information (your banking, loan, and credit information). They use the demographic and personal information to reduce the likelihood that information is incorrectly reported on your credit report, and they use the financial and employment to assign a Credit Score that business-service-providers use in their decision making process.
  • Am I affected by the breach?
    • Equifax announced that the July 2017 data-breach encompassed over 143 million U.S. consumers, which is a large portion of working age adults in the United States. Chances are high that your information was part of the breach. To verify if you are part of the breach, Equifax has created the following site to see if your information was included.

https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/

  • What information was included in the breach?
    • There are no specifics on individuals, but Equifax has stated that the data included (but was not necessarily limited to) full names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and in some cases driver’s license numbers. Additionally, at least 209,000 credit card numbers were included in the breach.
  • Should I place a Credit Freeze, Monitoring, or some other protection on my credit?
    • Information Security recommends discussing this with your credit card provider, your bank, or trusted financial expert. These experts are best suited to provide guidance on how to protect your credit. One thing to note is that Credit Freezes can make it more difficult for a thief to take out credit in your name but it also makes it more challenging for you to take out credit when you want it since you need to unfreeze your credit at each of the three major reporting agencies. Additionally, there is a charge for each Credit Bureau to place and remove a freeze. Speak with a financial expert at your bank for more information.

    UPDATE: 2017-09-19 The original version of this article was incorrectly titled 2017 Experian Breach FAQ the title has been correctly updated to 2017 Equifax Breach FAQ