Consumers are being warned to be on high alert for Equifax data breach phishing scams, telephone and text message scams, and fraudulent use of their sensitive information.
Almost Half of All Americans Impacted by Equifax Data Breach
The massive Equifax data breach has resulted in the personal information of almost half of the population of the United States being stolen. More than 143 million Americans have been impacted by the breach, which potentially exposed their names, dates of birth, email addresses, phone numbers, home addresses, Social Security numbers and driver’s license numbers. 209,000 Americans also had their credit card numbers stolen.
As is common following any data breach, victims have to be alert to the risk of identity theft and fraud. Criminals are quick to use credit card numbers as card providers block card numbers rapidly. If consumers are quick to take action when card numbers have been fraudulently used, they can maximize the probability of reversing any financial harm.
Social Security numbers and other sensitive information can be used for a much longer period, so breach victims will need to remain vigilant to the risk of identity theft and fraud.
Equifax has offered all Americans the opportunity to sign up for free credit monitoring services to help them detect and resolve any fraudulent use of their information; however, affected individuals are not being notified by mail. Only those individuals whose credit card details were stolen will be receiving postal notifications about the breach. All other Americans will have to visit the Equifax.com website to determine whether they were a victim of the breach or access the http://equifaxsecurity2017.com/ website, which has been set up specifically to help victims check whether they have been affected and what they can do to mitigate risk.
While credit card statements and bank accounts should be monitored closely, along with credit reports to determine whether credit has been taken out in their names, victims must also be wary of phishing attacks – by phone, text message and email. The data will almost certainly be used to conduct phishing attacks on breach victims.
Beware of Equifax Data Breach Phishing Scams
Americans wishing to find out more about the breach should be similarly cautious. Equifax data breach phishing scams can be expected. Cybercriminals are piggybacking on the cyberattack and have been registering domains similar to that used by Equifax in an attempt to obtain sensitive information from breach victims. USA Today reports that in the past few days there have been 194 domains registered that are highly similar to that used by Equifax. These domains contain common typos and spelling errors designed to obtain traffic from careless typists.
This week, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has issued a warning to more than 8 million NY residents of the elevated risk of phishing attacks following the Equifax data breach, urging them to exercise caution using email and to think twice before opening email attachments or clicking links sent via email.
Schneiderman said, “Hackers are resourceful criminals who are constantly looking to exploit any vulnerabilities, and I encourage everyone to educate themselves about how to best protect their personal information.”