Sunday, September 10, 2017

Welcome to 2017 where hacking is what seems like an everyday occurrence. Cough, cough - Equifax.

Target, CNN, HBO, Chipotle, Gamestop, Equifax - what do all these companies have in common? They have all been hacked this year.

But why, in our opinion, is the Equifax hack the worst? Well, many know Equifax as one of the top three credit reporting agencies. Ever applies for a home loan or an auto loan? Chances are the bank you are using has run your credit through Equifax. Equifax is reporting that sensitive information, such as Social Security numbers and addresses, of up to 143 million Americans has been exposed. The data breach is among the worst ever because of the amount of people affected and the sensitive type of information exposed.

Unlike other data breaches, those affected by the breach may not even know they're customers of the company, as the company gets its data from credit card companies, banks, retailers and lenders - sometimes without you knowing.

When did this happen?
Equifax said the breach happened between mid-May and July. It discovered the hack on July 29. It informed the public on September 7.

How did this happen?
Equifax said criminals "exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files."

Am I at risk, and what is Equifax doing to help?
Equifax is proposing that customers sign up for credit file monitoring and identity theft protection. It is giving free service for one year through its TrustedID Premier business, regardless of whether you've been impacted by the hack.

To enroll and / or check whether you were affected, visit and click on the Check Potential Impact tab. You'll need to provide your last name and the last six digits of your social security number. Once submitted, you will receive a message indicating whether you've been affected. (Giving your personal information to a company that was just hacked...ironic, we know). Then, you have the option to enroll in the program, but you can't actually sign up for the service until next week. Each customer is provided an enrollment date starting earliest on Monday.

Can I sue Equifax?
If you sign up for Equifax's offer of free identity theft protection and credit file monitoring, you may be limiting your rights to sue and be forced to take disputes to arbitration. But you can opt out of that provision if you notify the company in writing within 30 days. In addition, some attorneys argue that even if you don't opt out, the arbitration provision does not cover suits related to this breach.

It seems like companies are getting hacked a lot. Is this the biggest ever?
The Equifax breach is one of the largest breaches ever. Another high-profile examples include two breaches at Yahoo - the bigger one involved 1 billion accounts, the lesser impacted 500 million.