Equifax hacked – The implications of the massive hacking of the Equifax credit reference agency
Of the big three credit reference agencies in the UK and USA
There are three major credit reference agencies serving the UK – Callcredit, Equifax and Experian. The big three in the US are: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
Equifax, which operates in the US, Canada and the UK, has recently suffered a huge breach of its security by hackers, which is what this article is about.
If you apply for any form of credit from banks, building societies, loan, hire purchase and leasing companies, the lenders ask one, two or all three of them for information about you upon which to base their decision – to lend or not to lend to you. For example, in the UK, even not being listed on the electoral register (voters’ role) can be enough to make getting credit difficult.
Information that the credit reference agencies collect from lenders
The financial activities of everyone living at a particular address finds its way into the credit references for that address. For example, if someone is claiming the single-person’s 25% reduction in UK council tax as the only person living there but there are other people staying at that address, to check that claim, the council can ask for a credit reference for that address, which will show the applications of everyone living at that address – broadband and phone accounts, loans, credit card applications, applying for bank and savings accounts, HP, leases, etc.
The following webpage provides information that helps to determine if your lenders and credit-card companies use Equifax.
Credit Reference Agencies – Find which lenders use which agency –
Equifax hacked – The facts and figures
Apparently, the hack started in mid-May, 2017, but was only detected on July 29, 2017. Then Equifax in the US confirmed that the personal information that it holds on more than 142 million people had been accessed illegally by hackers. Equifax had failed to install a security update that made the breach of its systems possible.
Equifax says that the breach of security has been terminated. The information includes the full names and addresses, social security numbers, dates of birth, credit card numbers and drivers’ licence details.
Equifax is also a major credit reference agency and provider of data-breach services in the UK and Canada, therefore the private information the company holds on the citizens of those countries was also accessed.
Equifax is also a “leading provider of data-breach services”
Bear in mind that Equifax is also a “leading provider of data breach services, serving more than 500 organizations with security breach events every day.” Therefore, this huge hack is not going to be doing that side of its business any good, that’s for sure. What hope is there for the security of anyone’s private data if a “leading provider of data breach services” suffers from a huge breach of its security?
Several Equifax executives sold stock in the company before the security breach was made public
Several Equifax executives sold their stock options before the huge breach of the company’s security was made public knowledge. Nevertheless, the corrupted company claims that the sell-off was not related to the data breach.
Equifax hacked: measures you should take to protect yourself
Protect yourself from email scams and phishing
The hackers will no doubt sell their information if they themselves are not cyber criminals. The cyber criminals will then use the personal information to send spoof phishing emails to people that appear to be from genuine sources, leading users to respond to them by giving away their bank or login information. Moreover, the hackers can combine information obtained from this hacking with information from other successful security breaches.Therefore, make it a habit never access a bank or store account via an email, always enter the site address in your browser’s address bar – or better still use a search engine to find it and then access it from the search results. If a computer virus sets up a HOSTS file on your computer containing the web addresses of faked websites, your browser will use the list and visit them instead of the real websites.
Protect yourself from identity theft
You also need to take measures to protect your identity from identity theft. Links are provided to articles on how to do that at the end of this article. The article by Malwarebytes, the US anti-malware company, is very good.
The PC Security page on this website provides all the security information you need to be able to stay safe online.
Equifax hit with a data breach possibly affecting half of the US population
You have a statutory right to check your credit rating with the credit-reference companies
Read the article about this on this website here:
Equifax hacked – Other articles
Equifax aftermath: How to protect against identity theft –
Equifax Got Hacked: How to Stop Identity Thieves from Opening Accounts in Your Name –