California Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued a consumer alert Sunday morning, Sept. 10, regarding the Equifax data breach that affected 143 million Americans and over 15 million Californians.
Equifax is one of the nation’s three major credit reporting agencies. According to Equifax, the breach lasted from mid-May through July, and compromised names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers.
“Millions of Californians’ personal information has been compromised as a result of this massive data breach. Equifax's response to date is unacceptable,” Attorney General Becerra states in a news release. “My office has been and will continue to be in touch with Equifax until we get to the bottom of this massive data breach. We will do what's necessary to hold Equifax accountable. In the meantime, I urge all consumers to heed this alert to protect themselves.”
The Attorney General lists the following suggestions:
To check whether you have been impacted by the Equifax data breach, please visit: https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/potential-impact/. If you use Wi-Fi, make sure that you are using a secure Wi-Fi connection before submitting your personal information.
Consumers are also encouraged to take the following steps to protect their personal information:
1. Put a fraud alert on your credit file.
A fraud alert helps protect you against the possibility of someone opening new credit accounts in your name. A fraud alert lasts 90 days and can be renewed.
To post a fraud alert on your credit file, you must contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies below. If you contact any one of the three major credit reporting agencies, fraud alerts will be automatically added by the other two agencies as well.
Experian: 1-888-397-3742; https://www.experian.com/fraud/center.html
TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; https://www.transunion.com/fraud-victim-resource/place-fraud-alert
Equifax: 1-888-766-0008; https://www.alerts.equifax.com/
2. Review your credit reports. Look through each one carefully.
Check your credit reports from Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax — for free — by visiting https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action. Accounts or activity that you don’t recognize could indicate identity theft, especially accounts opened recently.
3. If you find items you don’t understand on your report, call the credit bureau at the number on the report.
Credit bureau staff will review your report with you. If the information can’t be explained, then you will need to call the creditors involved and report the crime to your local police or sheriff’s office. See the Identity Theft Victim Checklist: https://www.oag.ca.gov/idtheft/information-sheets.
According to the Attorney General’s release, Becerra “made protecting consumers a top priority” when he assumed office. “Among other actions, he has secured a record $18.5 million multi-state settlement (https://www.oag.ca.gov/news/press-releases/attorney-general-becerra-target-settles-record-185-million-credit-card-data) with Target over data security failures that contributed to the compromise of 40 million customers' payment card information during the 2013 holiday season and a $3.5 million multi-state settlement (https://oag.ca.gov/news/press-releases/attorney-general-becerra-announces-35m-settlement-lenovo-preinstalling-software) with Lenovo to resolve allegations that it illegally preinstalled ad-injecting software that compromised the security of its computers.”