LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - One of the largest data breaches in history has left millions of people worried about their highly personal data being exposed to hackers.
The breach could have started as early as mid-May 2017. That means around 143 million people have had private information exposed for more than three months. Some people may still be wondering if they have been affected and what to do if they have been. Here are some immediate things to do.
The Arkansas Attorney General’s office told us to contact them right away if you think may have been impacted.
“We are looking into this very seriously and Arkansas will be taking a lead role looking into this,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.
We also spoke to Nick Clements, co-founder MagnifyMoney.com, who said that when fraudsters acquire this type of information, they have the ability to open new accounts in your name
“That is the scariest type of fraud possible,” said Clements.
He said the first thing you should look into is an identity protection program to help you now and in the future. He said Equifax is offering everyone a free year of “TrustedID Premier”, their personal protection service.
But he said by agreeing to that free protection plan offered by Equifax, you could be "waving any right to sue the bureau for losses" that could arise from the data breach.
“So, I’d tread carefully before I’d go down that one year free path,” he said.
He said there is another important step to take even if Equifax said you are not impacted.
“You should purchase some type of free credit monitoring to see if someone opens an account in your name,” he said. “Those programs help you know about it right away.”
The Arkansas Attorney General’s office recommended continually monitoring all of your accounts to make sure there is no unusual spending or activity. That can be a key indicator that someone has your information and is using your account. Additionally, if you are receiving invoices or bills in the mail for things you never purchased, that’s another sign your accounts are compromised.
While the thought of fraudsters having your data can certainly be scary, Clements said the best thing to do is stay calm and get to work.
“Don’t panic and understand the law is on your side,” he said. “If anything, you’ll face annoyances rather than financial loss if you make sure to take action as soon as something happens and you have the right tools in place.”
Here are some helpful tools and resources for you to become more informed and to better protect yourself from data theft: