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Equifax Data Breach: What Now?

By now you’ve definitely heard of the enormous data breach that hit Equifax, one of three major consumer credit reporting agencies. No matter how you look at it, this is a HUGE deal! Experts estimate 143 million American customers may have been affected, which is roughly 44 percent of the country’s adult population.

How did this breach happen? What was stolen? And what can you do to protect yourself and your organization from financial harm? Below, CoverHound addresses these questions and more. Keep in mind that you can safeguard your company against financial damages by investing in business insurance from a reputable provider; visit CoverHound for your free quote.

What Happened?

Over the past several years, immense data breaches have become something of a norm. When you hear the phrase “data breach” you probably envision the incidents that crippled Target, killed Ashley Madison and shook Yahoo. But while the two Yahoo data spills affected over 1 billion accounts, the Equifax breach is actually far more serious and damaging.

“Equifax, based in Atlanta, is a particularly tempting target for hackers,” writes the New York Times. “If identity thieves wanted to hit one place to grab all the data needed to do the most damage, they would go straight to one of the three major credit reporting agencies.”

And that’s exactly what they did. Cyber crooks pilfered a cache of sensitive information including names, addresses, Social Security numbers (SSNs), driver’s license numbers, birthdates and, in some cases, even credit card numbers. This is undeniably more than enough information to steal someone’s identity, open accounts in their name and really do damage to a victim’s credit score.

While further details will likely become apparent in the coming weeks, hackers appear to have gained access through a flaw in the company’s web software. Even more frightening: this is the third major cyberattack on Equifax since 2015! It’s realizations like these that drive organizations to invest in cybersecurity insurance.

What Now?

For those of you wondering how to overcome this crisis, you can start by investigating whether your personal or financial information was affected by visiting Equifax’s security and incident support page. This will require your surname and the final six digits of your SSN.

However, this program’s terms of service contain an arbitration clause. As Time writes, these clauses aren’t atypical for credit monitors, “But in this circumstance, it created the impression that Equifax was asking consumers it had harmed to surrender their legal rights — including becoming part of a class-action lawsuit — before it would agree to help them.” This is why it’s always necessary to research your options before signing up for anything. Experts are also troubled by the fact several Equifax executives sold stock after the breach was discovered (but before disclosing it to the public).

All things considered, some consumers and businesses may feel more comfortable taking matters into their own hands by:

-Setting up fraud alerts through Experian or TransUnion

-Reviewing credit reports through a third-party service or agency

-Monitoring financial statements “in house” to detect suspicious activity

-Or by putting a proactive freeze on their credit accounts.

As mentioned before, we will likely see more news updates on the Equifax breach for months to come. In the meantime, do your business (and your employees) a favor by visiting CoverHound today! In situations like these, the right commercial insurance coverage can be make or break.

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