Hello, neighbors,

This message from MaryPIRG has good advice about the Equifax breach.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Maryland PIRG <act...@marylandpirg.org>
Date: Thu, Sep 14, 2017 at 11:16 AM
Subject: Equifax breach: Here's what to do
To: volch...@acm.org

Here's our advice about the Equifax data breach.

Dear Emil,

The credit bureau Equifax disclosed a breach of up to 143 million Social
Security numbers, birth dates and other personal data.1

The types of information taken from the massive credit bureau, particularly
Social Security numbers and dates of birth, are the keys to new account
identity theft. This means identity thieves could open fraudulent credit
accounts and rack up tons of debt in your name.

*This is a big deal. To make matters worse, there's a lot of confusion over
what to do now. We wanted to make sure we got this information out so you
can make the best decision possible. Here are frequent questions we're
getting: Q: Should I accept Equifax's package? A: Hold off for now.*

To take advantage of Equifax's package, you have to agree to be bound by
its online agreement. Equifax's original Package agreement included an
arbitration clause, which Equifax could have tried to use to bar victims of
the data breach from joining class action lawsuits. After public outcry,
Equifax removed the arbitration clause from its agreement.

However, Equifax has a separate Terms of Use agreement on its website which
also includes an arbitration clause. There remains some concern that
Equifax could try to use this clause to bind victims who agree to be bound
by the Package agreement.

Until Equifax gets rid of the arbitration clause from all its sites and
contracts, consumers should hold off on accepting Equifax's package.

*Q: How do I know if I've been hacked? A: You should request free credit
reports at each of the "Big Three" credit bureaus annually under federal

Equifax has a website where you can use a tool to see whether your
information has been hacked. We have seen numerous press reports that it
gives different results at different times.2 For now, it's safer to assume
that your information has been compromised.

With your credit report, you can spot any unauthorized activity. By law,
you can request a copy of your credit report from each credit bureau every
year. If you request one report every three to four months then you have
your own version of free credit monitoring throughout the year. The
official website authorized by the government for requesting these free
reports is annualcreditreport.com

*Q: What can I do to make sure my identity is safe going forward? A: We
recommend consumers placing credit or security freezes
on their credit reports with all three credit bureaus.*

Social Security numbers and birthdates, which were stolen in this breach,
can be used to open credit accounts in your name and rack up tons of debt.
Credit monitoring only helps you detect this kind of activity after it has
already happened. The only way to actually prevent this activity is with
credit freezes at all three bureaus. More info and steps for doing this are
available here

Although not the largest breach in history, the Equifax breach provides
thieves with a treasure trove of information that can be used against you.

We'll keep you posted as there are other steps you can take to call on
Equifax or Congress to do more to remedy this situation, and prevent
similar problems in the future.


Ed Mierzwinski
Consumer Program Director

1. Tara Siegel Bernard, Tiffany Hsu, Nicole Perlroth and Ron Lieber, "Equifax
Says Cyberattack May Have Affected 143 Million in the U.S.
The New York Times, September 7, 2017.
2. Brian Krebs, "Equifax Breach Response Turns Dumpster Fire
Krebs on Security, September 8, 2017.

*Support Maryland PIRG.
Contributions by people just like you make our advocacy possible. Your
contribution supports a staff of organizers, attorneys, scientists and
other professionals who monitor government and corporate decisions and
advocate on the public’s behalf.

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