by Jon Cana, ABS-CBN News
“As you’re probably aware earlier today we announced a cybersecurity incident that has impacted those who rely on us to protect their personal information. I want to take a few minutes to talk with you about it.”
That was then Equifax chairman and CEO, Richard Smith, announcing the company’s data breach on September 7th… more than a month after it learned its software was exploited by hackers in late July.
The announcement also came after three Equifax senior executives sold their shares worth almost $1.8 million dollars, claiming they were not informed of the incident.
On Tuesday, Richard Smith announced his retirement from the credit reporting agency.
This as up to 143 million US consumers continue to face the effects of a potential compromise of their information, including social security numbers, birthdates, and addresses.
“Because it affects nearly everyone who is employed in the United States, you’ll see the impact of this… or months and months to come. It will manifest itself in fraudulent e-mails that we might all receive, trying to even steal further information, as well as potential for fraud,” said senior VP Ryan Kalember from Proofpoint Cybersecurity.
Equifax has since set up a website for consumers to check if they were affected by the breach. They’ve also offered free identity theft protection and credit file monitoring to all US consumers.
However, experts are advising Americans to take the precautionary measures upon themselves.
“First thing you should do is maglagay ka ng fraud alert so that credit bureaus know that you could have been subjected to fraud. After you can print your annual credit reports so you can see transactions that are a little suspicious,” said Rod Mercado.
Mercado also says that for those extremely worried, they can put a freeze on their credit, which blocks anyone from accessing your credit reports and information without your permission — a step that could prevent some of the worst-case scenarios.
“Pwedeng Mangutang, someone can file a loan on your behalf, open credit cards, even worse, they can tap into your retirement accounts.”
Equifax has since been hit with dozens of class action lawsuits. Several government agencies are also taking action against the credit reporting agency, including an investigation from the Federal Trade Commission.
And as of today, San Francisco became the first city in the nation to file its suit, with more legal action expected to come.