Equifax, an Atlanta based credit-rating agency, suffered a security breach on July 29th that exposed sensitive information of millions of Americans. Such information included social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers, birthdays, and addresses. It has been determined that 5.4 million Illinois residents have been affected by the breach.
The company has set up a website where you can check if your personal information was affected by the breach: www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan has opened an investigation into the recent security breach, and called on Equifax to provide free credit freezes to all Illinois residents in the wake of the breach. She urges Illinois residents to take the Equifax breach seriously and take steps to protect themselves from the possibility of identity theft:
· Seriously consider placing a credit freeze on your credit reports with all 3 consumer reporting agencies: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax;
· Regularly request your free credit reports, inspect them closely, and promptly dispute any unauthorized accounts;
· Inspect all financial account statements closely and promptly dispute any unauthorized charges;
· Consider placing alerts on your financial accounts so your financial institution alerts you when money above a pre-designated amount is withdrawn;
· Beware of potential phishing emails; don’t open any email messages or attachments from unknown senders and do not click on any unknown links. Fraudsters will frequently send coercive and misleading emails threatening account suspension or worse if sensitive information is not provided. Remember, businesses will never ask customers to verify account information via email. If in doubt, contact the business in question directly for verification and to report phishing emails; and
· Be on the lookout for spoofed email addresses. Spoofed email addresses are those that make minor changes in the domain name, frequently changing the letter O to the number zero, or the lowercase letter l to the number one. Scrutinize all incoming email addresses to ensure that the sender is truly legitimate.
With questions on the data breach, you can contact Equifax at 866-447-7559, or the Illinois Attorney General’s Identity Theft Hotline at 1 (866) 999-5630.