Two New York women file suit against Equifax over massive data breach

How to Protect and Monitor Your Identity After The Equifax Hack

Richard F. Smith, the firm's chief executive, published a statement on his website saying "This is clearly a disappointing event for our company, and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do". To make things even worse, credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 USA consumers, and certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 US consumers, were pilfered.

But even in that case, Equifax is not offering the credit monitoring service until next week at the earliest. That language landed the company in hot water with users and regulators alike. Consumers could start cutting back on credit card purchases or choosing not to save their card numbers and other personal data on retailer websites or in digital wallets.

Security experts are recommending consumers whose data was stolen place credit freezes on their accounts. However, if hackers have all of an individual's personal information, they also have all the information needed to unfreeze an account.

In the wake of the massive theft of personal identification information from Equifax (EFX), what can you do to protect yourself from cyber crooks?

- Consider freezing your credit reports. Some credit card information was also put at risk. Facing pressure from both politicians and consumer groups, Equifax clarified late Friday that the arbitration clause wouldn't apply to the data breach.

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Equifax is also offering free credit monitoring for a year.

Before Equifax announced the breach, some lawmakers last week were considering whether to lower penalties for credit-reporting bureaus whose inaccurate information hurts consumers, according to The Wall Street Journal.

This is a good reminder to us all that constant vigilance is more necessary than ever when it comes to our credit. This may cost a small fee if you do not have proof of identity theft or a police report, and you will have to lift or remove the freeze if you need a third party to access your credit report for a credit card application or vehicle loan application, for example. If you didn't know, Equifax is one of the largest U.S. based credit reporting agencies that collect and analyze detailed records of financial data for records of a wide range of consumers worldwide. Often, victims of identity theft can freeze their credit at no charge.

The Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection, which administers the Fair Credit Reporting Act in ME, issued a news release Friday afternoon encouraging people to take the breach seriously and consider basic steps to protect their identify, financial accounts and credit reports. That way you can be - rest assured - that you know what's going on with your accounts. Credit bureaus like Equifax are lightly regulated compared to other parts of the financial system. Whether there are laws against how the company as a whole - and those three executives - is unclear.

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