Over 8 Million New Yorkers Affected By Data Breach

The data breach is one of the largest of its kind ever and stands to put millions of Equifax user information at risk.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Friday that his office is investigating the data breach.

The company said "criminals" cribbed other personal info such as birth dates, addresses and driver's license numbers, as well as some 209,000 USA consumers' credit card numbers.

Equifax, the global credit rating firm, publicly acknowledged its systems had been compromised and user information had been stolen.

"We are not requesting consumers' credit card information when they sign up for the free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection we are offering to all USA consumers", the company said in a statement. "Organized criminals, they're buying and selling this information to be used, mostly for extending credit then buying something and getting money out of the deal". If it is not possible to provide the information at the same time, the information may be provided in phases "without undue further delay". "Enrolling in the free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection that we are offering as part of this cybersecurity incident does not waive any rights to take legal action", it said. These services include copies of your Equifax credit report, the ability to lock your Equifax report, monitoring of all three credit bureaus for changes in your report, scanning of the Internet for your Social Security number, and identity theft insurance.

You'll be directed to a screen that lists the steps of the process. Several politicians and consumer groups have criticized this provision.

You can view your credit reports for free at AnnualCreditReport.com. If you want to protect yourself from fraudulent borrowing, freeze your three major credit reports (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Review it closely for unauthorized accounts or any mistakes.

But even in that case, Equifax is not offering the credit monitoring service until next week at the earliest. "If any of the data was exposed, you will be living with that for the rest of your life", said Rich Mogull, who runs the security research firm Securosis.

Consider freezing your credit.

If you spot anything suspicious, contact the bank or credit card company immediately. So each time you apply for a credit card, mortgage or loan, you need to lift the freeze a few days beforehand. This option is the best bet for protection, but it is also the most complicated.

You could be giving up some of your rights to sue.

Here's how to freeze your credit. But it's free for residents of some states, including Maine, New Jersey and SC. Chief among the questions lawmakers and consumer regulators are raising is whether the credit-reporting bureaus are subject to enough oversight. The report stays open and is updated to keep track of your debts, payments and other information.

Expert consensus says Equifax bungled the breach and the subsequent response.

The company said late yesterday that they had not been informed of the incident. Though Equifax's eventual expense may not be known for years, it could be multiples higher than the insurance payout, given what the company has disclosed and the costs at hacking victims like Yahoo and Target Corp., they said.

The site where Mashable uncovered the information is now offline.

Never Respond to Unsolicited Requests for Information. Hopefully, this will all end well and without a lot of hassle for the people affected by this cyber attack.

While their services are essential to the USA economy, the credit-reporting bureaus don't have the same regulatory oversight as the financial industry.

"There's a panoply of things Equifax will face", said Timothy Pestotnik, a San Diego lawyer who works on class actions and was involved in litigation against Toyota over unintended vehicle acceleration. Eight million New Yorkers were reportedly impacted.

Two victims in OR, affected by the breach - Mary McHill from Portland, and Brook Reinhard from Eugene - have filed a national class action lawsuit. Days later, three senior managers including Chief Financial Officer John Gamble sold stock worth nearly $1.8 million.

  • Wendy Palmer