Names, birth dates, Social Security numbers and even addresses were compromised for some 143 million people.
This week, we learned that Equifax — a credit monitoring company — was hacked, exposing the Social Security numbers and sensitive information of about 143 million Americans.
That’s about half of America, according to CBS News.
“This is clearly a disappointing event for our company, and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do,” Equifax CEO Richard Smith said in a statement. “I apologize to consumers and our business customers for the concern and frustration this causes.”
This breach will force millions of Americans to become even more diligent in protecting their identity, given that Equifax is a major credit monitoring firm.
Here’s what you need to know about the breach:
– Equifax said that “criminals” exploited a website application to access files earlier this year (May to July). Among the data compromised were Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, birth date, credit card numbers and addresses.
– The hack was discovered July 29, but Equifax waited until this week to announce the development.
– You can visit this established website to find out whether your personal information has been stolen. You can also call 866-447-7559 for more information. But some experts warn that signing up to Equifax’s help website might strip away your rights. According to the Washington Post: “Buried in the terms of service is language that bars those who enroll in the Equifax checker program from participating in any class-action lawsuits that may arise from the incident.” For more information on the pros and cons of using the company’s help site, click here.
– While this isn’t the largest breach in history, it is one of the most sensitive. Last year, Yahoo’s data breach was considered to be one of the biggest — it affected one billion users. But the Equifax hack exposed Social Security numbers, something not included in the Yahoo incident.
– While you might not see a change in your credit report immediately, hackers can still use the information for years to come. To protect yourself, you can follow a few easy steps: check your banking activity and report weekly, use two-factor identification for websites you have to log personal information into and sign up for a credit monitoring system.
This is a developing story.
[MUSIC] All right, I am Tiffany the Budgetnista [UNKNOWN] and I am here to help you solve your money problems. So let's hit the streets of NYC and help some folks live a little bit richer in 2016. Are you ready for me to get all up in your financial business? Yes! What is your biggest financial issue right now, and what do you need help with? I need help with saving more. I don't like to have any debt at all. How do I save and actually look [UNKNOWN] apartment. Do you have a budget? I do not have a budget at the moment. Budget! [LAUGH] No budget. A budget's super simple, just a list of all of your expenses, including hair, nails, food, bills, everything. And then you're gonna write down how much all of those things cost you in a month. So one month. Then you're just gonna add up that list and subtract it from what you take home every month. So we're gonna start with the budget and what you're gonna do is you're gonna look to your budget and find something small that you can allocate toward your debt every single month and then you're gonna automate that payment. Pay off a credit card in full. Is that good or bad for your credit? I think it's aways good to not have debt. Good for your credit, I don't see why not, if you can afford it than that's good. Bad for your credit. You have to be able to show how you make your payments. Paying off your credit card in full is a good idea. Here's why, credit scoring companies like to see good habits. It doesn't matter how much it is as much as it matters how consistent [INAUDIBLE] If you continuously pay that credit card off, you're going to see your credit score raise, because you're showing great habits. So, yes, please please please pay off your credit card in full every month, if you're able. Co-signing for a boyfriend or girlfriend. Bad for your credit, I've done it. [LAUGH] No, I'm gonna say no. Good. Bad. So bad. I couldn't even give her the mic. So bad. I'm not gonna do that, it's bad for me. I don't even care. Co-signing for a boyfriend or girlfriend is never a good idea, here's why. When you co-sign on anybody's debt, that means you're taking equal responsibility for that debt. And you don't want to do that because if they don't pay, that means it looks like you have not paid Deferring student loans, good or bad? Well, I say it's bad. Bad. It's good for your credit score because at least you're making payment. It's not bad for your credit, but the interest can accumulate. Trick question. It's not good or bad, honestly. Deferring your student loans is definitely an option if you think you might not be able to pay, because you do not want to default. See this is why we need you Tiffany. You did great. Hey, well not bad. I hope these tips were helpful, remember when it comes to financially fit, it's all about automation Consistency and accountability. I'm Tiffany The Budgetnista Aliche and this is ESSENCE Live.