However, these additional customers only had their names and partial driver’s license information stolen. They didn’t have their Social Security numbers compromised — unlike the 145.5 million Americans affected by the Equifax data breach last year.
Equifax stressed there was not a new cybersecurity breach that prompted today’s announcement. Instead, further investigation into last year’s Equifax hack revealed more consumers were impacted than previously announced.
Still, hackers having your name and driver’s license is a big deal. Here are some steps you should take now to protect yourself from data hackers.
What does the Equifax data breach mean for you?
The Equifax data breach, first announced on September 7, 2017, took place between May and July of 2017. Equifax discovered the data breach on July 29, but did not publicly disclose it until September.
Hackers gained access to sensitive data stored by Equifax for almost half of all Americans, including:
- Social Security numbers
An estimated 209,000 people also had their credit card numbers compromised. The investigation into the Equifax hack is ongoing.
For the additional 2.4 million Americans now affected, Equifax stresses that only partial information has been hacked because, “In the vast majority of cases, it did not include consumers’ home addresses, or their respective driver’s license states, dates of issuance, or expiration dates.”
If you are one of the 2.4 million new victims of the Equifax data breach, you’ll receive a notice via U.S. Postal Mail. Equifax will also offer free credit monitoring and identity theft protection services. Information about enrolling in these services will be included in the mailed information.
How can you protect yourself from a data breach?
Whether you were one of the victims of the original Equifax data breach or you just found out you were a victim, you should check your credit report. A recent study from CreditCards.com revealed 50% of consumers had not checked their credit since the original Equifax breach was announced.
If someone has your personal information and opens up new lines of credit, your credit could tank if:
- They apply for new credit cards and rack up a bunch of charges that go unpaid.
- They take out personal loans or other kinds of loans in your name and don’t make any payments.
- They add more credit and debt to your name, throwing your debt-to-income ratio off.
The sooner you identify fraud and take action, the easier it will be to resolve.
You can check your credit report today at no cost by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. You are entitled to one free credit report from each of the major credit reporting bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Additionally, you can sign up for free identity protection services offered by companies like Credit Karma.
Another protection you can take involved placing a freeze on your credit report. You may pay a small fee for placing a freeze on your credit, as well as for unfreezing it. But once you freeze your credit, no one can apply for credit — even you — unless you unfreeze it using a special pin number you create.
You will need to contact each credit bureau independently to place a freeze on your credit. You can do so online or by phone via the following:
Some states have laws requiring credit bureaus to place a freeze on your credit at no cost if you have already been a victim of identity theft.
Hopefully, by taking proactive action, you can prevent identity theft from happening even if you are a victim of a data breach.
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