PHOENIX - Breaches happen every day but this one with Equifax feels personal because it is. Credit bureaus know everything about us. Shouldn't they have iron clad security to keep our information safe?
Cyber security expert Michael Kaiser says yes but "as we grow more and more online all these databases just become larger and larger and there can be vulnerabilities in them."
Kaiser is the executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance, a non-profit focused on cyber security education.
He says you can do everything right and still get hacked.
While Equifax isn't saying exactly what happened, Kaiser says one thing is for sure, "this was high-quality information that they stole." And very valuable on the black market, to be used for anything.
"Tax related scams, people trying to steal people's returns or getting into medical benefits," Kaiser said.
If it is sold, he says people are watching and waiting for clues.
"A lot of security researchers who will be looking at those marketplaces," he said.
To help curb the effects, Equifax is offering a year of free credit monitoring.
Financial expert Nick Clements with MagnifyMoney.com says the year long freebie isn't nearly long enough.
"This is a risk that's going to live with all of the impacted people for really most of their life," Clements said.
And he says the service likely won't help when you need it the most.
"You don't get any help if someone does use that information to open a fraudulent account," he said.
Clements says this breach, more than any other, is a wake-up call.
"We're now in the new normal, you just have to assume that your social security number and personal information is out there," Breach said. "You just have to assume that someone somewhere has stolen it at some point in time and that you need to come up with with a plan to protect yourself."
He says that starts with making sure you are notified as soon as fraud happens because "the quicker you know about it the quicker you can take action, and the less painful it is."
The plan should also include checking credit reports several times a year, bank statements every month, signing up for extra password protection like two-factor authentication, and seriously considering a freeze on your credit, to make sure your identity is verified anytime credit is applied for with you information.
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