What we know as of today is that the Equifax breach that was disclosed earlier this month actually began on or around 10 March 2017.(5) Hackers had roughly four months to explore Equifax databases before discovery.
Equifax initially lied about when the breach occurred, saying that it started in May.(1)
A security blogger actually created a fake Equifax site, demonstrating how easy it is to do. Equifax’s own Twitter account linked to the fake site.(2)
Why does this matter?
Equifax is one of the big three national credit reporting agencies, and exchanges data with the other two. The breach exposed data for 143 million Americans. Sound like a big number? Well, think about this: there are only 126 million households in the US.
Equifax has failed to notify people affected by the breach, but the math is pretty simple.(3) Once you subtract
- Those in prison, hospitals and nursing homes,
- and the 18% of American adults who don’t have bank accounts and wouldn’t appear in a credit reporting database,
what’s left is just about everyone.
The Equifax breach may have exposed virtually every household in the US — and with certainty, every household with assets worth stealing. Including yours.
Ah, but we Americans like to share. Apparently, the breach hit Canadian families as well.(6)
If your credit card companies haven’t already offered fraud monitoring, you need to call them. You need to start checking credit reports regularly for new accounts for which you didn’t apply. You have to assume that your confidential information (name, SSN, birthday, mother’s maiden name and everything you ever used for a security question) is now someplace on the Web, available for criminals to buy and use. It’s just a matter of time.
Massachusetts has already filed suit against Equifax for negligence and dishonesty regarding the breach.(6) The existence of the fake website should make that an easy case, and we can assume other states and eventually the Federal government will follow suit.
However, that means little in terms of protecting yourself and your family. You need to act, now.