Cybersecurity Expert Warns Consumers To Be Wary Following Equifax Data Breach

Equifax reporting agency was hacked and data of 143 million Americans is exposed!

As of Monday, the options contracts with the largest outstanding bets on the stock profit from a decline of 15% to 19% over the next five weeks, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The company is one of the three major bureaus that maintain databases of consumers' credit status, payment history and address information.

If you are among the 143 million consumers with compromised data due to the massive Equifax breach, you might have spent the weekend making sure your identity had not been stolen. (Other information, such as credit card and driver's license numbers, about hundreds of thousands of people was also compromised.) Now the company has released several updates to let people know how it's handling the hack's aftermath and to clarify the terms of TrustedID Premier. But the site provides responses even for bogus names and numbers (such as "Trump" and "123456"), leading to questions about its accuracy.

Equifax is one of three nationwide credit-reporting companies that track and rate the financial history of USA consumers. Ondrej Vlcek, CTO and general manager at security outfit Avast, speculates that the attackers used a SQL injection flaw to gain access.

There's some comfort in the fact that Silicon Valley's tech giants generally seem way more trustworthy than your typical credit reporting agencies, which have at times been comically hostile to the interests of consumers. Here are the links to freeze your credit at Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. When you plan to apply for a credit card, mortgage, or other loan you'll need to go back to each site and lift the freeze.

"Equifax will work with United Kingdom and Canadian regulators to determine appropriate next steps", the company said, somewhat vaguely. The stock has shed more than 20 percent of its value since Wednesday, the day before Equifax announced the breach. But what does freezing your credit entail, and how easy is it to do (and undo)?

Leach noted that if an unauthorized person opens a credit account in the name of a consumer and incurs debts, the consumer is not legally obligated to pay those debts.

Run your credit reports.

The U.S. government can still see someone's credit during a freeze, but creditors can't, reports Bankrate.com. For decades, Equifax and its competitors-with the blessing of regulators-collected information about pretty much every American adult, offering us no way to opt out.

Apparently, the company has known about the hack since July 29, yet the public was just notified yesterday. The company has found no evidence that personal information of consumers in any other country has been impacted. Employers, landlords and utilities also use the bureaus' data to check up on consumers. Online information about consumer financial protection issues is available at www.credit.maine.gov. Furthermore, the ToS associated with the product states that customers who sign up for the service will be billed for it thereafter unless they call the company to cancel the product.

Equifax's ham-handed response is reviving calls to weed out mandatory arbitration from the finance industry.

It's not clear whether Equifax had always meant to suspend the waiver/arbitration clause for victims of the data breach. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, in a statement.

The Atlanta-based company announced last week that a cybersecurity incident has potentially impacted 143 million USA consumers.

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