With the news that credit monitoring giant Equifax has experienced a data breach of 143 million consumers – nearly 1/3 of the population of the United States - Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin is providing potentially impacted Rhode Island consumers with information on what to do to protect from identity theft. In accordance with Rhode Island law, Equifax notified the Attorney General's Office of the breach late yesterday.
"This may be one of the largest, if not the largest, data breaches that has ever occurred, and consumers are right to be concerned about the potential impact," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "We always advise consumers to utilize Equifax and the other national credit monitoring services whenever there is a data breach, which makes this breach even more troubling. Even the most hyper-vigilant consumers are now vulnerable to identity theft. In addition to the steps Equifax has established to help consumers, it is more important than ever to closely monitor activity on all your financial accounts and to immediately report suspicious transactions."
According to information provided by the company, the breach took place from mid-May through July 2017. The information accessed primarily includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver's license numbers of approximately 143 million consumers. In addition, credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 consumers, and certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers, were accessed.
Equifax has established a dedicated website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, to help consumers determine if their information has been potentially impacted and to sign up for credit file monitoring and identity theft protection. The offering, called TrustedID Premier, includes 3-Bureau credit monitoring of Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit reports; copies of Equifax credit reports; the ability to lock and unlock Equifax credit reports; identity theft insurance; and Internet scanning for Social Security numbers – all complimentary to consumers for one year.
The website also provides additional information on steps consumers can take to protect their personal information. Equifax recommends that consumers with additional questions visit the Equifax site or contact a dedicated call center at 866-447-7559, which the company set up to assist consumers. The call center is open every day (including weekends) from 7:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m. EST.
In addition to the website, Equifax will send direct mail notices to consumers whose credit card numbers or dispute documents with personal identifying information were impacted.
The Attorney General's Consumer Protection Unit is closely monitoring developments with the Equifax data breach and will continue to update consumers with new information as it becomes available. For information on this data breach, please visit www.riag.ri.gov (click on Consumer Protection Information on the homepage).