The Wall Street Journal just reported that credit-reporting company Equifax Inc. disclosed that hackers gained access to some of its systems, compromising personal information of about 143 million U.S. consumers making this one of the most threatening data breaches in recent years. Equifax chairman and CEO Richard F. Smith said, "This is clearly a disappointing event for our company, and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do".
If you have a credit report, there’s a good chance that you’re one of the 143 million impacted by the data breach. According to Equifax, hackers accessed the following:
- People’s names
- Social Security Numbers
- Birth Dates
- Driver’s License Numbers
Additionally, they stole credit card numbers for about 209,000 people and dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 people.
There are steps to take to help protect your information from being misused. Visit Equifax’s website for more info: www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.
- Check your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — for free — by visiting annualcreditreport.com. Accounts or activity that you don’t recognize could indicate identity theft. Visit IdentityTheft.gov to find out what to do.
- Consider placing a credit freeze on your files. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. Keep in mind that a credit freeze won’t prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts.
- Monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts closely for charges you don’t recognize.
- If you decide against a credit freeze, consider placing a fraud alert on your files. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and that they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name really is you.
- File your taxes early — as soon as you have the tax information you need, before a scammer can. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. Respond right away to letters from the IRS.
- Have a risk assessment performed on your business.
Visit Identitytheft.gov/databreach to learn more about protecting yourself after a data breach.
Also, be aware that there may be some phishing scams coming in the near future from banks, credit card companies and even Equifax. If you get an email from one of these institutions, play it safe and call or go to their website instead of replying the email.
If you think your business is going to keep slipping though the cracks and continue avoiding data breaches, I urge you to read about the cost of recovering from a breach and determine if your business could financially risk not securing business documents and files.
It's not only a financial loss that a business experiences after a data breach, but a loss of reputation as well. According to securitymetrics.com,
After a breach, many businesses have documented losing up to 40% of their revenue from customers losing confidence in their brand.
Customers that lose confidence in your brand will undoubtedly impact your business and your future growth. It's the overlooked cost that your business could have to deal with for years beyond the initial data breach.
Having a thorough, professional risk assessment done by Pinnacle can outline your biggest vulnerabilities. You won't be able to protect your data from a breach tomorrow if you don’t know the risks your business is facing today.