We've known about the massive Equifax data breach for about six months and victims are still dealing with it. The reality is, many of us will be dealing with its impact for the rest of our lives.
That's because our Social Security numbers were stolen, and as you know, we can never replace them. This could lead to numerous cases of identity theft now and down the road.
Well, there's more bad news. The Equifax breach is even worse than first reported.
Equifax breach still causing problems
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. Now, the consumer credit reporting agency said that another 2.4 million Americans had sensitive information exposed during the breach.
This brings the total number of victims to nearly 148 million. It's still the largest breach of personal information in history and climbing.
The good news is, the latest round of victims had limited information stolen. Equifax claims the hackers were only able to get their names and partial driver's license information. The issuing state of the driver's license and its dates of issuance or expiration were not exposed.
What should you do now?
The first thing you should do is check to see if you were part of the breach. Equifax opened a dedicated site to help consumers find out if they're impacted. Click here to check.
Open your personal my Social Security account
A my Social Security account is your gateway to many SSA online services. Creating your account today 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 it up.
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. 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 three major credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Click here to learn how to get your free annual credit report today.
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. Click here for simple tips to protect yourself and your family.