Indianapolis, In. - The top consumer advocate In IN says up to 3.8 million Hoosiers had personal information compromised In the Equifax data breach. The upshot is hackers now have the most important pieces of identification for almost half the country.
A freeze on an individual's credit files ensures that identity thieves will not be able to use that person's personal information to obtain loans or lines of credit.
Now Equifax, the giant credit reporting agency, has made itself the poster child for how not to deal with customer security.
Members of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee yesterday sent a letter to Equifax chairman and CEO Richard F. "Rick" Smith asking for a detailed timeline of the breach and more information about what the company is doing to "identify and limit potential consumer harm".
Company executives are also under scrutiny, after it was found that three Equifax executives sold shares worth a combined $1.8 million just a few days after the company discovered the breach, according to documents filed with securities regulators.
A freeze takes your credit report out of circulation.
The proposed class action includes all residents of Canada whose information was stored on Equifax databases and was accessed without authorization between May 1, 2017 and August 1, 2017. Names, addresses, birth dates, Social Security numbers, driver's license numbers and other information are held by Equifax. It has also pushed to repeal a federal regulation upholding consumers' rights to sue. Equifax is offering victims a year of its identity-monitoring service, but thieves could just sit on the information for 12 months and then start exploiting the data.
At that point you'll receive a message telling you whether you've been impacted by the hack. The public backlash prompted Equifax to back off that brazen demand, but what happens after the year is up?
In other words, the vast majority of adults in America. Scammers who get ahold of the data could use it at any time - and with 143 million to choose from, they may be patient. Equifax should be required to provide the credit monitoring service in perpetuity.
The BBB says even before this breach more than 6 billion records have been stolen this year.
The problem is not going away. That means it and its competitors, TransUnion and Experian, are a detailed storehouse of some of the most personal and sensitive information of Americans' financial lives.
Equifax has proven it can not protect individuals' key personal and financial information. The company has since dropped its credit-freeze fees and requirement for binding arbitration in consumer disputes. Reports that data obtained by hackers may be used to impact voting systems further underscores the need for tighter regulation and better security across the board.
Some lawyers have already announced suits that they hope will be class-action cases. State investigators in several states have also launched a probe.
Consumers can complete an Equifax security freeze here or access the state website to place a "freeze" on credit here.