Montanans affected by Equifax breach, state says

Montanans affected by Equifax breach, state says

Montanans affected by Equifax breach, state says

Equifax first discovered the vulnerability in late July, though it chose not to announce it publicly until more than a month later. What's worse is that the bulk of the information, such as social security numbers, birthdays, addresses and other personal details, is far more valuable than the stolen credit card information.

Spokespeople for Equifax did not respond to inquiries from HuffPost about why it changed the credit card policy. He would not answer additional questions, referring Harrison to the company's breach site instead.

By now, almost everyone has heard about the recent data breach at Equifax - one of the big three consumer credit bureaus - this summer. And all of it could be used for identity theft.

If nothing else, you should closely monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts to check for unauthorized charges. The PIN (a sequence of ten digits) is assigned by Equifax, but is not chosen at random - it consists of the date and time at which you performed your freeze.

Sadly, it should be clear by now to anyone reading this that if your personal and confidential information hasn't been compromised, it will be. It's particularly worrisome for the millions of people who trust credit-reporting agencies like Equifax to handle and protect their financial information.

Equifax gets its information without you even knowing from banks, lenders, credit card companies, and retailers.

Enable Two-Factor Authentication. Equifax was hacked, but your cell phone wasn't. If so, sign up for them. You are allowed a free copy once a year from each of the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

A memo to state legislatures: Maybe start with giving everyone access to their credit reports whenever they want to see them, for free, at all three bureaus, as the Stanford professor Jeffrey Pfeffer suggested over the weekend in a LinkedIn article.

Consider freezing your credit.

One caveat: If your identity has actually been compromised - as in, someone tried to open a fraudulent account in your name - then this is an important step to take. Each company will give you a code that you'll need again in order to lift the freeze, so keep it in a safe place. Require your financial firm to speak with you and request a verbal password (which is unique to your online password) when transfers are requested from your accounts. This is a less drastic step than a freeze, but can be very effective.

Check your free credit reports. A basic fraud alert expires after 90 days, which means consumers must be diligent in renewing them. If you are active duty military, you can also file a one-year fraud alert while you are deployed. The best Equifax can do is pester you with emails begging you to renew after a year, and at that point you can choose either to be removed from their mailing list, or continue your subscription at the going rate. This option is the best bet for protection, but it is also the most complicated.

Some are being told: "Based on the information provided, we believe that your personal information may have been impacted by this incident". Failing to warn customers they are at increased risk for identity theft is inexcusable.

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