How Equifax is getting off easy after being hacked by ID thieves

Options traders are betting that Equifax's stock will drop further following last week's announcement of a security breach

Their proposed remedy - an offer of a year's free credit monitoring to any adult in the United States - seems woefully inadequate in light of the fact that the apparently stolen information does not expire after one year.

To freeze your credit at Equifax, you'll want to go to freeze.equifax.com.

"We encourage you to let us know if this breach has resulted in attempts by a hacker to use your compromised information to gain access to your financial information or accounts, including, not but limited to your bank account, credit cards, and retirement or investment accounts", Kilmartin said.

To thaw it, you can call a phone number (Equifax's automated freeze lift line is 1-800-685-1111) and give them the PIN along with either the date range you wanted the freeze lifted, or the name of the company you'd like to be given access to your report. Right now, that feels nearly like a ransom to companies that hoard our personal information but can't or don't care enough to protect it.

Obtaining such personal information makes it easy for hackers to steal an individual's ID, apply for loans, credit cards, and even government benefits.

The company suggests you sign up for credit file monitoring and identity theft protection.

Hackers will also turn new apps against you.

Indeed, in that worst case scenario, we may be forced as a society to rethink how we confirm identity and track credit ratings, which would be a major disruption for the financial services industry.

In a posting on the Canadian part of its website, Equifax says it is "working night and day to assess what happened".

Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va) asked the Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday to examine the recent cyber hack of Equifax, the credit reporting agency.

"A lot of times we download an app, and it comes with a huge screen of 26 different permissions.you've got to kind of think through that", said Cocanower. You can place an alert on your report for free by contacting one of the credit agencies, which is required to notify the other two. It has tumbled by 23% since the news broke last week.

Equifax has proven it can not protect individuals' key personal and financial information.

"Outside investigators found no evidence of unauthorized activity on our core consumer or commercial credit reporting databases", Smith said.

The question now is, what can you do to protect yourself? Fees to freeze your account vary by state, but commonly range from $5 to $10.

But the company's own website offers plenty of clues.

In addition to seeking a credit freeze, potential victims of the Equifax hack should regularly request a copy of their credit reports and sign up for free credit monitoring with a verified provider, Krebs said.

"It's a pretty extreme measure, but when 143 million people have been exposed like this, I think you have to take it", Ulzheimer said.

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