CINCINNATI — Clifford A. Bailey, president and CEO of TechSoft Systems, an information technology company that specializes in cybersecurity, said last week’s data breach at Equifax will change the world of credit security the same way 9/11 changed air travel.
“This is another one of those moments,” Bailey said. “9/11, how they (federal officials) changed the airline industry and how we protect passengers. This is another one of those moments. … You have gone in and actually captured sensitive data that can change the course of people’s lives.”
The head of Equifax, Rick Smith, said the stolen data includes, among other things, Social Security numbers, birthdays and credit card histories of up to 143 million Americans.
Hackers exploited a problem that experts say Equifax had ample time to correct.
After the breach was reported, Renee Baruch took action.
“I’ve done everything I can,” Baruch said. “I have a lock on my credit. I followed the link to the Equifax information where it explains whether your information has been breached or not.”
Baruch said she discovered her information was taken by thieves, which didn’t surprise her.
“Really, with such a large number, it has to be only Americans that have never applied for any credit that have not been breached,” she said.
Given the scope of the problem, Bailey knows some people will be frustrated to find out there are no simple solutions, though credit freezes and fraud alerts can certainly help.
“Is there a clear map to this? No,” Bailey said. “There will be plenty of suggestions, but there will not be a clear-cut map.”
That’s why Bailey encourages anyone whose data has been breached to connect with experts who can help.
“The mentality is … it hasn’t happened to me, it’s not likely to happen to me, and the odds are very slim it’s going to happen to me. Well, when it does, now you’re unhappy.”
To keep that from happening, Bailey said knowing what’s in your credit report is critical.
“One thing that you can do is monitor your credit like you’ve never done before,” Bailey said. “You must become a steward of your credit like you’ve never been before.”
Bailey said that means you should check your credit report at least once a month.
Fortunately, you can visit annualcreditreport.com to request one free credit check every year from each of the three reporting companies – Equifax, Transunion and Experian. After you use your free options, you may have to pay. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the most a credit reporting company can charge per report is $12. The CFPB said when you run a check on your own credit, it has no effect on your personal credit score.
(via Todd Dykes, WLWT)