Contributed By: Jon Freeman

Credit reporting agency Equifax disclosed one of the most significant data breaches in recent history earlier this month. Equifax announced that vital information on approximately 143 million U.S. consumers was put at risk. According to Equifax’s website, “The information accessed primarily includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. In addition, credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 U.S. consumers, and certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers were accessed.”

You may be thinking: What is Equifax?
Equifax is one of the three main consumer credit reporting agencies. It collects banking and lending data on consumers and businesses that companies use to determine the amount they will approve you for when applying for things such as loans and credit cards. The company has a large repository of personally identifying information, including names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and even driver’s license numbers. This sensitive data is exactly the kind of information used in identity theft, which is why this Equifax hack is such a big deal. There have been other data breaches over the years that were larger than this one, but the private and sensitive personal information that was taken is what makes it one of the worst data breaches in modern history.

To find out more information about this issue from Equifax’s website, and to learn how to discover if your information was compromised you can click on Equifax FAQ Cybersecurity Incident.

You may want to read the article from Consumer Reports website about what consumers need to know about this data breach by clicking HERE.

If you find that your personal information was compromised in this data breach the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) lists steps you can take on its website. You can get to it by clicking on FTC-DataBreach. If you scroll to the bottom of the FTC’s web page there is a heading which reads, “Were you affected by one of these specific data breaches?” Click on “Equifax” right under that heading, and there is a drop-down menu that lists steps you may want to take in response to your information being exposed in this data breach.

For more information on managing your personal finances feel free to visit the Personal Finance GCPL Guide.