Consumer credit reporting agency Equifax on Thursday announced a major security breach, potentially exposing Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver’s license numbers for up to 143 million U.S. customers — or nearly 60 percent of adults in America.
Equifax publicly disclosed what it called a “cybersecurity incident,” in which criminals exploited a web app to gain access from the company. Unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July 2017.
It said that the information primarily included names, Social Security numbers, birth dates and addresses. In some cases, driver’s license numbers were also included with the data.
As of 2014, the U.S. had about 245.3 million adults, meaning Equifax’s breach of 143 million people could potentially affect some 58.2 percent of Americans over the age of 18.
Further, credit card numbers for about 209,000 U.S. consumers were accessed, along with other personally identifying information for about 182,000 in total. Certain U.K. and Canadian residents are also affected.
Before Thursday’s announcement, the breach was first discovered on July 27. In response, Equifax has launched a new website, equifaxsecurity2017.com, where users can enroll in “complimentary identity theft protection and credit file monitoring services.”
However, the free credit monitoring offered by Equifax is through TrustedID — a fully owned subsidiary of Equifax itself.
Further complicating matters, the Equifax response site was inundated with traffic after the announcement of the breach, leaving many users unable to see whether or not they are affected.
After entering their information, many were only given a “TrustedID Premier” activation date, with no information as to whether or not their information may have been exposed. In addition, Equifax asks the visitor to “please be sure to mark your calendar” to return to the site and enroll for TrustedID Premier service.
Equifax data is used for identity verification for major financial transactions, meaning the information that may have been compromised is especially sensitive with respect to wealth management, investments, loans, bank accounts, and much more.
TrustedID Premier includes credit monitoring of Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit reports, as well as copies of Equifax credit reports, the ability to lock and unlock them, identity theft insurance, and internet scanning for Social Security numbers.