Data Privacy and Security Client Alert – Equifax Data Breach

    By Nicole J. Harrell, Data Privacy and Security

    The Equifax data breach reportedly impacts 143 million U.S. consumers.The information accessed included names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, drivers license numbers, approximately 209,000 credit card numbers and other personally identifying information for approximately 182,000 people.

    You can check to see if you have been impacted by the breach by visiting clicking on the Potential Impact tab.You must enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number, so the FTC is advising that you do this only from a secure computer and encrypted network.Alternatively, you can call Equifax at 866-447-7559.Given the number of impacted individuals, you can expect some delays.

    In an effort to mitigate its loss, and the potential harm to you, Equifax is offering one (1) year of identity monitoring through its TrustedID Premier product.Please be aware that while identity monitoring is certainly helpful (and free if you enroll through Equifax), it may not be the only or most effective means of preventing identity theft.If, after the breach, you question the reliability of Equifax, you have the option of paying for identity theft monitoring from another provider.

    As a side note, if you enrolled for the free identity monitoring offered by Equifax prior to September 8, 2017, the enrollment terms required that you agree to an arbitration clause and waive any right you may have to participate in a class action suit.As a result of pressure from consumers, consumer protection groups and various states, Equifax revised its terms of service to allow consumers to exclude themselves from the arbitration by providing notice to Equifax.It has since further clarified that the arbitration clause and waiver will not apply to this particular incident, and those provisions have been removed from the terms of use.

    Other recommended steps to take in protecting your identity include ordering an annual free credit report each year from (or calling 877-322-8228), regularly monitoring your bank accounts and credit card statements, and placing a fraud alert and/or credit freeze with the credit reporting agencies.

    As you review your options, its important to keep in mind the differences between a credit freeze and a fraud alert.A credit freeze literally freezes your credit report and prevents potential creditors from accessing your credit report.If you purchase a home, a car, make another financed purchase, or want to take advantage of an in-store discount if you agree to open a credit card with that store, you would be required to instruct the credit reporting agency to lift the freeze to allow the creditor to check your credit and that may take several days.A credit freeze must be placed with each credit reporting company TransUnion, Experian and Equifax.Please note that each agency may charge a fee for placing and lifting a credit freeze; however, Equifax is waiving the fee for placing a credit freeze for a short period of time.

    A fraud alert is not as stringent and simply puts creditors on notice that you may be victim of identity theft and alerts them to notify you before new accounts are opened using your personal information.There are two types of fraud alerts an initial fraud alert that remains in place for at least 90 days and an extended fraud alert (available if you have been the victim of identity theft) that remains in place for seven years.You may place a fraud alert on your file by calling any one of the three credit reporting agencies.

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published a blog posting on the Equifax breach ( addition, the FTC has a site dedicated to proactive steps to take if your personal information was compromised in a data breach and steps to take if you are the victim of identity theft ( your identity requires that you remain vigilant now and in the future.

    If you elect to obtain free monitoring from Equifax (or pay for monitoring from another provider), it is equally important to think beyond the initial monitoring period, particularly if the information included your Social Security number along with other personally identifying information.Its unlikely that your Social Security number will change and now the hackers have it forever.They may not use it now and, instead, wait until the free monitoring period ends. In addition, its likely that it will be for sale on the dark web at some point.Criminals can shop for names and Social Security numbers along with other personal information on the dark web in the same way you shop for pants online add the items to your shopping cart, click checkout and enter your method of payment.So think beyond the free monitoring period and consider enrolling in a monitoring service (from the provider of your choice) on an on-going basis.

    Kaufman & Canoles remains available, even on short notice, to assist with your data privacy and security matters.In the event of a potential breach of sensitive or confidential information, or if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Nicole Harrell at (757) 624.3306 or or our Data Privacy and Security Practice Group. We can be reached by phone on our hotline at (844) 417.3309 or by email at

    The contents of this publication are intended for general information only and should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on specific facts and circumstances. Copyright 2024.