How To Protect Yourself From The Equifax Hack

Image: Blogtrepreneur / Flickr

Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit reporting agencies, has reported a massive hack potentially exposing the sensitive personal and financial information of 143 million Americans and over 8 million New Yorkers — nearly everyone with a credit report. Hackers accessed names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and in some instances, driver’s license numbers and credit card numbers. This is one of the gravest breaches of consumers’ information we’ve ever seen. New Yorkers across the state are at serious risk of identity theft.

I have opened a formal investigation into the incident. Yesterday, I sent a letter to Equifax demanding more information about the breach. We will get to the bottom of how and why this massive hack occurred. If we find any wrongdoing, we will hold those responsible to account.

In the meantime, I encourage you to immediately take steps to see if your data was compromised and to strongly consider additional measures to protect yourself:

  • To check whether your information was compromised, you can go to a website set up by Equifax.
  • Check your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion by visiting annualcreditreport.com. This is a free service. Accounts or activity that you do not recognize could indicate identity theft.
  • Consider placing a credit freeze on your files. It will not prevent a thief from using any of your existing accounts, but a credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name.
  • Monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts closely for unauthorized charges. Call the credit card company or bank immediately about any charges you do not recognize.
  • Since Social Security numbers were affected, there is risk of tax fraud. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. Consider filing your taxes early and pay close attention to correspondence from the IRS.

Under New York law, businesses with customers in our state are required to inform customers and my office about security breaches that have placed your personal information in jeopardy. We are continuing to closely review this unacceptable breach.

Please take precautions over the next few days, and share this information with your friends and family.

Sincerely,

P.S. — some of you may have seen reports about the terms of use for Equifax’s website to check whether your personal information is at risk. We called yesterday. After conversations with my office, Equifax publicly stated that consumers who check their status will not waive their rights. We are continuing to closely review.