Equifax Data Breach Poses Heightened Fraud Risk
Equifax, one of the “big three” credit-reporting agencies along with TransUnion and Experian, announced that a data breach may have compromised the personal information of up to 143 million consumers to hackers.
This data breach represents one of the largest publicly disclosed occurrences on record, eclipsed only by the 2016 Yahoo hacking incidents. The Equifax data breach is significantly more threatening to consumers due to the type of information gained by the hackers. Equifax said that the hackers gained access to systems containing customer’s names, social security numbers, birth dates and addresses – all data that is necessary in applying for numerous forms of consumer credit. In addition, credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 consumers as well as some driver license information was also stolen.
Small lenders in particular may find themselves more at risk for fraudulent loan applications as a result of this breach due to their reliance on the four key pieces of consumer information that was stolen. These institutions will need to implement new controls and procedures to identify potential fraud, particularly in regards to online applications.
Equifax has set up a website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, offering consumers complimentary credit-monitoring and identify-theft protection. Consumers can also use the website to determine if their information has been compromised.
Protecting customer data needs be a critical concern for all business. Developing and maintaining adequate cyber security protocols and educating employees on ways to prevent common hacking schemes should be a significant part of every organizations fraud risk assessment program.