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Class-action lawsuits filed against Equifax following massive data breach

Class-action lawsuits filed against Equifax following massive data breach

The data included names, birth dates, addresses, social security numbers, and for some, drivers licenses and credit card numbers, according to the credit reporting firm.

"You're not the customer, you're the commodity", said Chi Chi Wu, an attorney with the National Consumer Law Center.

When your credit card number is stolen, it's easier to fix.

Equifax's handling of this disaster has been feeble and dishonest, which only increases the need for improved security measures and increased regulation of credit reporting companies - not less regulation, as Equifax wants.

Don't wait for your monthly statement to arrive; fraudulent charges may pile up before you notice.

Equifax says the hacking took place between mid-May and July.

The company established a website, equifaxsecurity2017.com, where people can check to see if their personal information may have been stolen. But he also points out that the "convenience of the digital age" is having your information readily available online for the people you want - and don't want - to easily access it.

First of all, don't panic. Annually, more than 15 million Americans are victimized by ID fraud. But there are sings you should look for with identity theft.

It could be a long, messy process. How can you protect yourself against this? He also said other companies offer similar services.

Clements said that a hack of this kind can lead to two types of fraud: account takeover and full identity takeover. "We have state and Federal rights to do these things so they can't just shut down their systems to prevent us from placing alerts and setting freezes".

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"If a college student in Columbus misses a credit card payment or a family in Toledo is forced into bankruptcy because of medical debt, Equifax dings their credit report", said Brown.

Shareholders haven't had much success in securities class actions blaming investor losses on corporate data breach disclosures. The service is free, but most alerts last only 90 days unless you renew them.

TransUnion lets people "lock and unlock" their credit reports for free - provided that they enroll in its free "TrueIdentity" credit monitoring services. Several readers said they received error messages there, too, when they tried to get a copy of their report.

Hackers will also turn new apps against you.

How often should you check your credit report?

If someone tried to open a new credit card in your name, it can be spotted through monitoring. If the imposter doesn't pay the bills, it can seriously hurt your credit score. Clements says we need to find a better way to authenticate.

The FTC provides a sample letter you can use to explain the situation.

Once you've cleared up the situation, remain vigilant.

"If that happened, somebody needs to go to jail", said Sen.

Keep a close eye on all your statements. Security experts and officials alike slammed the company for a poorly designed response Web site, and for initially requiring potential victims to give up their rights to sue before they could obtain free credit monitoring. Most reputable financial institutions will never call you and ask for information like a Social Security number, account numbers and passwords.

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