Equifax has stated that the hack began back in May, but the company didn’t discover it until July, and failed to disclose it to consumers for another six weeks.
Credit reporting agencies are the boogeymen of first-time homebuyers and loan-seekers. It’s an industry with very little transparency, and few protections for consumers, but it just got a whole lot worse. Well, it got worse months ago in May, according to the Washington Post, but Equifax, one of the three largest U.S. credit reporting companies, didn’t even notice until July, and then didn’t bother to disclose it for another six weeks or so, though no reason has been provided for this delay.
The world has seen no shortage of major data breaches over the last few years, and Equifax’s 143 million exposed individuals is among the most serious, specifically because of the sensitivity of the data. Where Yahoo’s data breaches were the most massive in scale, the contents were limited to things like phone numbers and birthdates. Equifax is in the business of finance, and that requires the most sensitive of personal information.
Among the data exposed are all of the components of identity theft, namely Social Security Number, Date of Birth, and home address. The agency additionally reporting having lost control of a number of driver’s license numbers and credit card numbers, though the scale of those losses seemed drastically lower by comparison, reported on the order of 200,000.
While another of the three big credit reporting agencies, Experian, got hacked back in 2015, the number of people affected was only a fraction of this breach.
Equifax has stated that it will be alerting those affected by mail, though, with the adult population of the U.S. being somewhere around 240 million, the 143 million affected has a very good chance of including you. It might be a good opportunity to re-examine your own security habits, since it sometimes seems nobody else will.
Feature Image via LA Times