All consumers encouraged to enroll in credit monitoring in wake of Equifax data breach
Equifax says it's now reviewing its security operations, after publicly acknowledging that its system was hacked. The major credit bureau trusted to help protect sensitive consumer information is in crisis control mode.
Consumers in the meantime, should monitor their financial accounts closely and be alert for signs of potential identity theft or fraud.
"The unauthorized access occurred between mid-May and July," explained Equifax Chairman and CEO, Rick Smith.
Equifax has a red alert banner about the breach on it's website to explain that criminals have obtained names, social security numbers credit card numbers and more for as many as 143 million American consumers.
Based on the latest Census Bureau numbers, that's more than 44 percent of the entire. population of some 324 million people.
On a video address posted on the company's website, Smith called the breach a humbling experience and issued an apology.
"I'm pleased to report that the review found no evidence of unauthorized activity on our core credit reporting databases. This is clearly a disappointing event, and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do. I deeply regret this incident," Smith said.
While there's no evidence that any personal information has been impacted so far, experts repeatedly warn that criminals often wait as long as 6 months to sell and use what they get in data breaches such as this.
In an unprecedented move, Equifax is offering free ID-theft protection and free credit file monitoring to every consumer in the United States.
The Federal Trade Commission says it encourages everyone to take advantage of that offer.
You must enroll to get the free services. The enrollment deadline is November 21, 2017.
You can find more information at equifax.com or contact the dedicated call center at 1-866-447-7559.
Equifax has hired a top cybersecurity firm to investigate, and is working with law enforcement, which now includes the FBI.
The investigation is likely to grow, as reports surface that several senior executives at Equifax sold their company stock days after the breach was discovered, and before the intrusion was made public.