Equifax Data Breach: Be Vigilant!
As result of the Equifax data breach, it is most important that you be vigilant! Scammers may now have your critical information they need to steal your personal information.
According to media sources, hackers compromised Equifax data files and thereby gained access to the personal information belonging to 143 million United States consumers. This data theft, which allegedly took place between mid-May and July 2017, consisted of individual’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, credit card numbers and other personal information.
Equifax Data Breach Scam Alert
The Consumer Federation of America’s director of consumer protection and privacy, Susan Grant, posted the following warning, “With this breach, criminals have everything they need to victimize you.”
Here are three cons that experts believe will become prevalent in the aftermath of the Equifax breach.
1. Imposter scam calls
Beware of con artists posing as representatives of Equifax calling to “verify” your account information. Given that Equifax is providing free credit monitoring and credit freezes in wake of its data breach, the call may sound legitimate, the agency warned. But don’t ever provide any privy information over the phone. Providing information to a con artist over the phone increases the chance that you’ll be victimized. In event your data wasn’t comprised in the Equifax attack, giving it out over the phone increases your risk of becoming a victim.
2. Tax identity theft
Victims often get the first inkling of a problem when they file their annual tax returns and the IRS notifies them that another return has already been filed and their refund has been claimed. What action should you take? File a police report and a fraud report with the FTC Identity Theft Hotline (877-438-4338). Also complete IRS form 14039, the Identity Theft Affidavit. You may be forced to file your tax returns on paper in the meantime. If you do not get a prompt response from the IRS, call the Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490 for assistance.
The data made available through the Equifax breach is also likely to spur a wave of so-called “spear-phishing” scams that could put more than your credit at risk. Phishing scams are often unsophisticated email and phone cons aimed at getting you to reveal privy data, such as your Social Security number. Spear-phishing cons are far more sophisticated.
These use your real data — the type of data compromised in the Equifax breach – to mimic legitimate communication from your bank or broker. The email may urge you to click on a link or open a PDF file to check your account or verify a transaction. However, if you click on the link, you could be downloading malicious software on your computer that would allow the thief to hijack your computer or record your keystrokes.
Equifax Data Breach Warning
Warning: As result of the Equifax data breach, assume any unrequested communication suspect. If you get an email from your bank, broker or credit card issuer and believe it’s legitimate, visit the company’s website or call their toll-free number. Do not click on the link.
Note: The below information was taken directly from Equifax’s website:
Equifax has established a dedicated website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, to help consumers determine if their information has been potentially impacted and to sign up for credit file monitoring and identity theft protection. The offering, called TrustedID Premier, includes 3-Bureau credit monitoring of Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit reports; copies of Equifax credit reports; the ability to lock and unlock Equifax credit reports; identity theft insurance; and Internet scanning for Social Security numbers – all complimentary to U.S. consumers for one year. The website also provides additional information on steps consumers can take to protect their personal information. Equifax recommends that consumers with additional questions visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.com or contact a dedicated call center at 866-447-7559 (Click here for an important update on call times due to Hurricane Irma), which the company set up to assist consumers. The call center is open every day (including weekends) from 7:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m. Eastern time.
In addition to the website, Equifax will send direct mail notices to consumers whose credit card numbers or dispute documents with personal identifying information were impacted. Equifax also is in the process of contacting U.S. state and federal regulators and has sent written notifications to all U.S. state attorneys general, which includes Equifax contact information for regulator inquiries.
The information provided in this post is intended for educational purposes only, and does not constitute any form of legal advice. No further representation is made.