It's only been a matter of months since we found out about the massive Equifax data breach that exposed over 145 million Americans' critical information. Unfortunately, those of us who were impacted by the breach will be dealing with it for the rest of our lives.
That's because our Social Security numbers were stolen, and as you know, we can never replace them.
Welp, brace yourself, it turns out that the original Equifax breach was worse than we thought.
Equifax breach is worse than originally reported
The Equifax data breach that was reported in July 2017 is one of the worst of all time. Critical information that was originally reported stolen from over 145 million Americans includes Social Security numbers, dates of birth and home addresses. Equifax said at the time that a handful of consumers also had their driver's license and credit card numbers exposed.
Imagine the chaos a criminal could cause with that information. Scary!
Unfortunately, it's even worse than first reported.
Equifax recently submitted a document to the Senate Banking Committee, fully detailing the breach. The document claims cybercriminals accessed even more critical data.
Tax identification numbers, phone numbers, email addresses, credit card expiration dates and issuing states for driver's licenses were also exposed in the breach.
When Equifax disclosed details about the breach last year, it only gave information that impacted the largest number of consumers. The list of extra exposed data that was just submitted supposedly only impacted a handful of people. The consumer credit reporting agency claims that it wasn't trying to mislead people.
That may be the case, but it's definitely a bad look. Anytime there's a major breach like this, the best course of action for the affected company is to disclose all information as soon as possible.
With so many people impacted by this breach, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is advising everyone to create a my Social Security account. This will take away the risk of someone else trying to create one in your name, even if they obtain your Social Security number. Click here to learn how to set up your account.
What to do following a massive data breach
Keep an eye on your bank accounts
You should already be frequently checking your bank statements, looking for suspicious activity. It's even more critical when there is a massive data breach. If you see anything that seems strange, report it immediately. It's the best way to keep your financial accounts safe.
Set up two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication, also known as two-step verification, means that to log into your account, you need two ways to prove you are who you say you are. It's like the DMV or bank asking for two forms of ID. This is an extra layer of security that will help keep your accounts safe. Click here to learn how to set up two-factor authentication.
Change your password
Whenever you hear news of a data breach, it's a good idea to change your account passwords. This is especially true if you use the same credentials for multiple websites. If your credentials are stolen from a breach, criminals can test them on other sites to log into those accounts as well. Read this article to help you create hack-proof passwords.
Beware of phishing scams
Scammers will try and piggyback on data breaches like this. They will create phishing emails, pretending to be from the affected company, hoping to get victims to click on malicious links that could lead to more problems. You should familiarize yourself with what phishing scams look like so you can avoid falling victim to one. Take our phishing IQ test to see if you can spot a fake email.
Get a free annual credit report
Under federal law, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report every year from the 3 major credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. All you need to do is go to annualcreditreport.com to request a copy.
Be safe online, here are 5 security mistakes you're probably making right now
We all do it. You make security mistakes that put your family at risk and probably don't even know it. In this digital age where everything from your garage door to your laptop, tablet, smartphone and light bulb are connected to the internet, you're leaving yourself open to hacks. Criminals around the world can remotely access your home.