Business Essentials for Professionals


U.S. Card Consumers Remain At Risk Even After The Equifax Data Breach

U.S.  Card Consumers Remain At Risk Even After The Equifax Data Breach
People are probably putting themselves at risk and not realizing it as far as identity theft is concerned.
Jeff Faulkner, acting president and CEO of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, or NFCC, says: "putting too much personal information out on social media is the most egregious example" of how consumers set themselves up.
He says that for scammer looking out to access personal accounts and personal details, simple personal information such as where one was born and brought up, where one went for vacations and who one’s friends are can be enough. These are information that can easily be identified and accessed from Facebook. This issue has gained importance in light of the Equifax data breach, he said.
Personal data of about 143 million Americans were stolen by hackers from Equifax – who had collected the personal data, about six months ago. Apart from those stolen, about 2.4 million Americans had been affected by the data reach, said the credit monitoring firm last week.
The hack has impacted about 147.9 million Americans. This has turned out to be the largest of all of hacking of data related to personal information.
And there has been many more in the past.
"The Equifax breach was the mother of all breaches but there have been breaches all along," Faulkner said. According to the NFCC, every year there are about more than 1,500 data breaches.
In the year 2016, the year before the Equifax hack, hackers had stolen personal identities of roughly 15.4 million consumers. This has been revealed in a separate report by Javelin Strategy & Research. The data breach, according to the firm, in 2016 was 16 per cent more compared to 2015.
And yet, there is little awareness among common people too ascertain whether their personal information is at any risk of being stolen or hacked. A very recent survey conducted by revealed that since the Equifax data theft, nearly 50 per cent of American have not had the time or opportunity to have a look at their credit report or credit score. The report further said that 18 per cent of the respondents of the survey said that they had never looked or checked their credit report or credit score ever.
"We need to be doing everything we can to protect ourselves, I can't stress that enough."-Jeff Faulkner, CEO of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling
A number of suggestions have been made by Faulkner. He says that individuals should set up notifications for tracking transactions on their credit card transactions and look out for any suspicious activity by checking the existing credit accounts. He also suggests that individuals should take out their credit reports from to run a check for nay new accounts that may have been created in their names in addition to setting up fraud alerts on the report for the short term and long term. These services come free and can be easily used by individuals. The alter would mean that the actual card owner would have to personally verify a transaction and a lender who needs to approve of the transaction would have to get in contact with the original owner to make sure that the transaction request is genuine and not generated by an imposter.
"We need to be doing everything we can to protect ourselves, I can't stress that enough," Faulkner said.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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