Oops: Equifax Cyberbreach Exposes Personal Data

By Scott Nelson

The nation's three big credit-reporting companies have tremendous power over American consumers and collect the most sensitive data about us. With that great power should go great responsibility to protect that information.

Now comes news, via CNN, that one of the big three, Equifax, discovered on July 29 that between May and July of this year, cyber criminals penetrated its systems and accessed extremely sensitive personal information about American consumers (names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver's license numbers). The breach also exposed credit card information for about 200,000 U.S. consumers. The breach affected residents of the UK and Canada as well.

According to the company, the breach "potentially" affects "approximately 143 million U.S. consumers." It's not clear from the company's statement how many of those 143 million actually had their information stolen, or even what the company means when it says they were "potentially impacted."

According to Equifax Chairman and CEO Richard Smith, "This is clearly a disappointing event for our company …."

Not to mention for 143 million Americans.

I should add one thing: Both the CNN story and the company website link to a page where they say consumers can check to see if they're "potentially impacted." I don't have any idea if that link is actually safe. All I can say is that I tried it and it didn't tell me if I'd been "potentially impacted." More disappointment, but I guess we need to get used to that.


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