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Privacy Commissioner says priority given to examination of Equifax data hack

13 September, 2017, 21:07 | Author: Jeff Stephens
  • The huge data breach at Equifax which leaked credit card numbers and other sensitive data is now being investigated by the US

Last week, the company revealed a massive data breach involving as many as 143 million people.

Equifax is one of three nationwide credit-reporting companies that track and rate the financial history of USA consumers.

Indeed, in that worst case scenario, we may be forced as a society to rethink how we confirm identity and track credit ratings, which would be a major disruption for the financial services industry. Rather than notifying people who were affected, it set up a website that wasn't ready for days.

The company didn't help itself with a sketchy effort to trick hacking victims into giving up their legal rights by enrolling in a free credit-monitoring service - the small print included a waiver of the right to sue Equifax or participate in a class-action settlement. Says Levin, "we are providing 5 key recommendations for individuals to take immediate actions to keep their identity safe".

The breach's effect will likely reach to banks, credit card issuers and other financial companies, which have had to contend with large-scale data compromises with increasing frequency.

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Terrorist groups, nation states and organized crime groups use this type of sensitive personal information to victimize US citizens and even potentially attack our critical infrastructure.

"Ask your credit card issuer to give you a new credit card number". On the next screen select that you want your credit report frozen.

Now Equifax, the giant credit reporting agency, has made itself the poster child for how not to deal with customer security.

In an opinion piece in USA Today, Equifax Chief Executive Officer Richard Smith apologized for the breach and vowed the company "will make changes". This information is exactly the information that we rely on to verify someone's identity.

Equifax sells marketing lists that offer "access to current personally identifiable information for over 210 million consumers".

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- Consider a credit freeze. If someone else goes to take out a loan in your name, the lender will not be able to pull your report and therefore can not extend the credit.

If the hackers now have a copy of Equifax's database (something Equifax's statements seem to make deliberately unclear) it calls into question our entire system of tracking and monitoring credit with potential consequences far beyond Equifax's ability to address.

Once a month itSynergy has a 15-minute, free webinar so you can learn about the latest trends and how to protect yourself. Along with TransUnion and Experian, the company's primary mission is to compile, store and disseminate personal information on customers to creditors who want to know if they are making good loans or not.

"We are listening to issues consumers have experienced and their suggestions", the company said on a website it created to post updates on the hack and to detail how it is addressing the issue.

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