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Hackers access database that has personal data for 143 million Americans from credit reporting agency Equifax

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/09/07/hackers-steal-personal-data-for-143-million-americans-from-credit-reporting-agency-equifax/?utm_term=.c8b2ae0df2db

 

Criminal hackers gained access to files including sensitive personal data for 143 million Americans— Social Security numbers, birth dates and home addresses — by penetrating a Web-based application for Equifax, the credit reporting agency said Thursday.

The breach, which the company said began in May, was discovered in July. Though Equifax said in a statement that “core database” were not penetrated, the attackers did gain access to a wide range of data for what appears to be a majority of American adults and some British and Canadian consumers as well.

Social Security numbers and birthdates are particularly sensitive data, giving those who possess them the ingredients for identity fraud and other crimes. Equifax said that it also lost control of an unspecified number of driver’s licenses along with the credit card numbers for 209,000 consumers and credit dispute documents for 182,000 others.

 

“In addition to the number [of victims] being really large, the type of information that has been exposed is really sensitive,” said Beth Givens, executive director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a consumer advocacy group based in San Diego. “All in all, this has the potential to be a very harmful breach to those who are affected by it.”

Equifax is one of three largest U.S.-based credit reporting agencies that collect and analyze detailed records of financial records of a wide range of consumers worldwide. The judgements of these companies about the creditworthiness of individuals can affect their ability to gain loans, housing and jobs, while also determining the interest rates on various consumer products.

One of the other leading credit rating agencies, Experian, was hacked in 2015, causing the personal data of 15 million Americans to be exposed.

The recent hack of Equifax was far larger but fell short of data breaches suffered by Yahoo, which affected 1 billion people worldwide.

Equifax said Thursday

 

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