Data Breaches

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04 February, 2021
3 Minutes
Equifax Data Breach Affects Millions of Consumers. Here’s What to Do.

Steve Symanovich

Staff writer

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A massive data breach at Equifax, one of the nation’s largest credit reporting companies, could raise the risk of identity theft for 145.5 million U.S. consumers.

Editor’s note: Equifax recently extended its offer for freezing your credit report for free to June 30, 2018. The previous deadline was Jan. 31, 2018.

In this article, you’ll learn details of the security incident and what you can do to help protect yourself if your personal data was compromised in the breach.

You’ll also find out about new developments related to the data breach and how to help protect yourself from identity theft. Here’s a list of topics.

  • Equifax data breach: What happened
  • Immediate steps to take
  • Can credit freezes, fraud alerts, credit monitoring, and identity theft protection help?
  • Tax-related identity theft: Are you at risk and what can you do?
  • Free credit freeze from Equifax: Answers to your questions
  • Equifax's latest move: Free credit lock and unlock for life
  • Poll: Americans slow to check credit after Equifax data breach

What happened

Equifax on Sept. 7 announced the cybersecurity incident, one of the largest in history. Unauthorized data access occurred from mid-May through July 2017. The breach was discovered on July 29.

The personally identifiable information (PII) that was accessed includes these details:

  • Names
  • Social Security numbers
  • Birth dates
  • Addresses
  • Driver’s license numbers (in some cases)

The company detailed the data breach in its press release. Among the key facts:

  • A U.S. website application vulnerability was exploited by criminals to gain access to some files.
  • There is currently no evidence of unauthorized activity on core consumer or commercial credit reporting databases.
  • The company is conducting an assessment and providing recommendations on next steps.

"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’s chairman and CEO said in the press release. “I apologize to consumers and our business customers for the concern and frustration this causes."

Immediate steps to take

What can you do if you’re a consumer affected by the breach?

  • Watch your mail. The company plans to send direct mail to consumers whose credit card numbers or dispute documents with PII were impacted.
  • Stay updated. The company has created resources to assist consumers. These include online information at and a call center at 866-447-7559.
  • Check out these tips on how to deal with data breaches.

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Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. NortonLifeLock offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about cyber safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses.

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