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Key Equifax executives departing after huge data breach

17 September 2017

U.S. Senators Brian Schatz and Elizabeth Warren introduced a new bill with the goal of giving control of credit and personal information back to consumers.

A data breach of this size is a huge notice that you, the consumer, are ultimately responsible for protecting your financial future. It's a good idea to ask for a letter confirming that the fraudulent account doesn't belong to you, that you aren't liable for it, and that the account was removed from your credit report.

A senior USA senator has asked the Federal Trade Commission, one of the few bodies with oversight powers over loosely regulated credit raters, to examine Equifax's security practices and its "widely-panned response" to consumers potentially impacted.

The CFPB supervises credit reporting firms' compliance with consumer protection laws but does not directly license or intensively monitor the companies.

"The company was a victim of fraud and didn't alert its consumers", said Bethany Agnew-Americano, the lead plaintiff in a proposed class action filed in Ontario on September 12.

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A file containing the names, dates of birth, email addresses and telephone numbers of United Kingdom consumers may have been accessed in the hack, which compromised the data of 143 million Americans. "It's enough to allow cyberthieves to take over you online". If you receive a credit card application in the mail, people may steal these forms and fill them out without your knowledge.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has scheduled an October 3 hearing with Equifax chief executive Richard Smith, who has openly apologized for the breach.

A 90-day fraud alert can be placed on accounts that you suspect have been compromised or illegally accessed.

"We believe continuing to offer consumers a fee-based service in addition to Equifax's free monitoring services will serve to only confuse consumers who are already struggling to make decisions on how to best protect themselves in the wake of this massive breach", the attorneys general wrote.

But in the meantime, identity theft criminals have created a new account or run up charges on one or more of your credit cards, knocking your debt-to-income ratio out of sight.

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That means if a customer whose data has been compromised can't pay the full cost of a new phone up front - Apple is on the verge of releasing several new phones - they likely won't be able to buy unless they remove the credit freeze. This may involve seeking out credit reports maintained by companies such as Equifax, and keeping records of your own financial transactions, as well as those you suspect are the result of fraud. Accounts or activity that you don't recognize could indicate identity theft, especially accounts opened recently. Get a free check with each of the three bureaus once a year.

The sudden departures come as Equifax has been the target of intense criticism over the lapses in security that led to the hack and the way the company has handled the aftermath.

The company has hired public relations companies DJE Holdings and McGinn and Company to manage its response to the hack, PR Week reported.

Her office recommends people think about placing a credit freeze on their files; checking credit reports at Equifax, Experian and TransUnion for free at annualcreditreport.com; and consider filing taxes earlier before an identity thief can use a stolen Social Security number to get a tax refund or job. Credit scores are used by lenders, insurers and employers to assess how people handle financial responsibilities.

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Key Equifax executives departing after huge data breach