OZAUKEE COUNTY —
After its security breach went public last week,
consumer credit reporting agency Equifax quickly set up
a website for consumers to check whether or not their
information has been compromised.
If you can’t admit
to a little bit of anxiety in waiting for the site to
respond, then you may not realize just how significant
this breach actually is.
“We learn of new
data breaches every day,” said Partnership Bank CEO
David Braaten. “The Equifax hack is different. The sheer
breadth of the information compromised is cause for
Unlike the series
of Yahoo! breaches, which have cumulatively compromised
the passwords and limited personal information from
nearly 2 billion Yahoo! user accounts, the Equifax
breach has the potential to be much more damaging to
According to the
Wisconsin Bankers Association, the personal information
of an estimated 142 million American consumers was
exposed from mid-May through July. Hackers are thought
to have accessed names, Social Security numbers, birth
dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s
license numbers, credit card numbers and dispute
documents with personal information.
“On a scale of 1 to
10 in terms of risk to consumers, this is a 10,” said
Avivah Litan, a fraud analyst at Gartner Inc., an
international research and advisory company.
So what can you do?
The first step is
to determine if your information was exposed in the
security breach. Equifax has set up a site that does
this free with limited personal information. While
making sure you are on a secure network, visit
www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. Click on “Potential
Impact.” From there, you will be asked to enter your
last name and the last six digits of your Social
The Equifax site
will then determine if your personal information was
part of the breach. If you were, Equifax does give you
the opportunity to register for one year of free credit
monitoring and the site will provide you with a date to
come back and enroll.
Do note that the
terms of service for this program include an arbitration
clause, the language of which bars those who enroll in
the program to participate in any class-action lawsuits.
You do have the ability to opt out of this clause, and
instructions are included on the site.
The WBA is urging
consumers to monitor their accounts closely and
frequently, match their credit card statements with
their receipts and balance their checkbooks monthly.
Additionally, whether or not your data was compromised
in the Equifax breach, the WBA notes that you are
entitled to one free credit report from each of the the
three major credit bureaus per year. By staggering these
requests, you can check your credit report every three
to four months for free.
will not suddenly go away,” said Braaten. “My best
advice: get signed up for online services with your bank
and credit card companies. By viewing your accounts
online throughout the month, you’ll be able to detect
problems when they occur as well as receiving text
messages that will alert you to activity on your