Business Crime

What the Equifax Breach Teaches Us

People who wish to check their credit score usually check three major companies; Equifax, Transunion or Experian. These three agencies are responsible for collecting a vast amount of personal information from customers to determine their credit scores. This knowledge also indicates the loan worthiness of an individual looking to borrow from a financial institution.

At the very least, the accrued data also includes the individual’s Social Security Number and credit card details that would have been difficult to steal.  Unfortunately, Equifax, early this month, suffered a major breach to its database, leaking information belonging to 143 million people in the US. This is about 44% of the total population.

The information, which consisted mainly of customer’s names, Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, birth dates, addresses and so on of some 209,000 US consumers were accessed. Apart from its American customers, Equifax also admitted that information belonging to some customers in the UK and Canada were accessed illegally.

Implications

The breach which occurred between May and July 2017 has shown once again how vulnerable customer’s information can be, even in the custody of large corporate organisations. Equifax has since opened a website where customers can find out if they have been affected and a call centre for assisting affected persons.

Businesses may have a tightknit security but when there is a minor lapse, unscrupulous individuals can take advantage of it. The best solution is to have multiple back up options and change passwords regularly. According to credit expert, Robert Harrow, concerned persons should consider placing a temporary fraud alert on their credit report in the meantime.

“If anything, we can learn that our information is not 100% secure in the custody of so-called established firms. We should also make contingency plans for times like this because nobody is guaranteed total protection,” he says

It will take some time to understand exactly, the implications of the breach for each person. But the lesson to learn from this is clear; stay alert about the outlook of your finances.

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