SPOKANE, Wash. - Credit reporting agency Equifax announced this week that 143 million people could be affected by a data breach.
That includes credit card numbers, social security numbers and other personal information, potentially in the wrong hands.
Chances are good someone in your own home is affected. This is one of the biggest data breaches to date.
One of the biggest questions people want to know is: why did Equifax wait so long to inform the public?
Equifax claims when they detected the breach on July 29, they hired a cybersecurity firm to determine what data the hackers got a hold of.
As for who's affected, that might be the scariest part of all, as victims may not be aware they are even customers of Equifax.
Equifax tracks everything from your payments on student loans to mortgages and gets their information from credit card companies, lenders, and banks.
209,000 Americans credit card numbers were among the compromised and 182,000 Americans personal information like driver's license numbers and social security numbers were stolen.
So here's what you can do:
-Go to the Equifax security 2017 website to see if you are a potential victim.
-If you are, you can sign up for free credit-monitoring services for a year. This will also help protect the misuse of your social security number. But be warned, If you do, you potentially lose the right to sue the company.
-Many experts recommend signing up to freeze your credit reports as some credit protection agencies don't detect non-traditional accounts. It can cost up to $10 but can prevents someone from renting an apartment or getting a job with your information.
At this time, Equifax is not explicitly telling customers whether or not their account has been hacked, just that they may have been impacted.
Those who were hacked will receive letters, and if they signed up for the agency's free credit monitoring, will have to check back in a few weeks.
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