Equifax profits by selling your personal data to marketers

Posted September 14, 2017

CFISA (cfisa.org), a cyber security training group, is offering vitally important tips for the 143 million Americans whose sensitive personal information was stolen in the recent Equifax data breach.

The credit monitoring company's call centre staff say that Canadians who have Equifax accounts in the US could be at risk of having their data compromised, such as those who have lived, worked or applied for credit south of the border.

Place a fraud alert on your credit reports, as this provides an extra layer of protection and would make it hard for an identity thief to open an account in your name Fraud alerts are free and stay on your report for 90 days. In addition to the credit reporting business for which it is best known, Equifax runs a profitable side business selling consumers' personal data to marketers. It will not prevent a thief from using any of your existing accounts, but a credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name.

∙ Always contact your financial institution directly - by phone - to report suspicious activity on your accounts or to confirm whether they sent you a notification.

Make sure to stay updated on your accounts, so you know right away if anything was changed, or added.

One thing that Clark doesn't want you to do is call the Equifax help line listed on the company's data breach website.

In the United States, the theft included consumers' names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some cases, driver's licence numbers.

"While we continue to seek answers from Equifax, and will use all tools available to do so, we want to provide consumers a place where they can go to get the latest information available on the breach", Kilmartin said. Is there another story you'd like us to VERIFY?

You can request the three credit rating agencies to freeze your credit. Start with putting a freeze on your credit.

It says it has asked the credit monitoring company to tell Canadians as soon as possible if their information was stolen and to adopt measures to help them.

But not every bureau has an identical set of financial information on every person, which accounts for even more variability in credit scores. It has been described as a marketing funnel for Equifax's own credit protection service, the value of which is in serious question.

There can be situations where inconsistencies or errors may be reported that could negatively affect your credit rating, and those need to be corrected.

If you do this, you will have to lift the freeze before they can provide information to a company inquiring about your credit.

The Equifax breach appears to be far worse than previous breaches, with potential consequences of a totally different order of magnitude than the prior mass corporate hacks. And in June of this year, Anthem agreed to pay $115 million to settle litigation over a 2015 hacking that compromised about 79 million people's personal information. "Sharing this information with our office will allow us to warn others to be on the lookout for similar attempts". Several readers said they received error messages there, too, when they tried to get a copy of their report.