Consumer credit reporting agency Equifax Inc on Thursday had been hit by a data breach that possibly affected more than 143 million Americans.
Equifax had announced that it is launching an investigation regarding the cyber attack that had stolen names, social security numbers, birth dates and home and business addresses of millions of people in the US. Worse, it had reported that credit card numbers, driver's licence numbers and other personal identification details had also been accessed.
In a statement, Equifax chairman and chief executive officer Richard Smith apologised for the incident, saying: "This is clearly a disappointing event for our company, and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do. I apologize to consumers and our business customers for the concern and frustration this causes."
What to do
If you have been affected by the data breach, you apparently cannot get your information back from the crooks. However, what you can do is to proactively keep tabs of your identity both online and offline as suggested by security company Kaspersky Lab.
First, regularly monitor your banking and credit card accounts. If you notice transactions that you do are aware of or familiar with, dispute them at your bank.
Second, enable SMS and email alerts. This way, any transactions made will send you notifications in real-time so you can report to your bank in case these activities are not yours.
Third, register yourself to an identity theft monitoring service. This will help you protect your identity both online and offline.
Fourth and last, be vigilant online. Know who you are giving your personal information too to prevent phishing scams.