NY AG: 8M New Yorkers affected by Equifax cyberattack

This July 21, 2012, photo shows Equifax Inc., offices in Atlanta. Credit monitoring company Equifax says a breach exposed social security numbers and other data from about 143 million Americans. The Atlanta-based company said Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, that “criminals” exploited a U.S. website application to access files between mid-May and July of this year. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP/NEWS10) – After a security breach at one of the country’s major credit bureaus, customers are left wondering if their identities will be stolen.

Some 8 million New Yorkers were affected by the massive cyberattack targeting the credit monitoring company Equifax. The figure comes from the office of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who on Friday launched an investigation into the massive breach.

“It makes you feel insecure about putting anything online,” Anne Austin said.

Austin is cautious when it comes to sharing her personal information online. She only does to track her credit score, so to learn some of it may have been exposed to others is concerning.

“You expect that it will be secure and that they will not be breached,” she said.

In total, the cyberattack targeting the credit monitoring company exposed data belonging to 143 million Americans including Social Security numbers, birthdates, and driver’s license numbers.

It’s all information criminals need to steal someone’s identity – something that you may not know for weeks.

“It’s gonna be weeks before that car loan, or you know, before you recognize that your tax return was claimed by someone else or insurance fraud,” Reg Harnish of GreyCastle Security said.

While you’re waiting, Harnish said it’s a good time to take your security into your own hands by picking strong passwords and monitor your credit reports and banking statements.

“These are places where all of this evidence shows up, and you can see that instantly online,” he said.

He said it’s easy to do yourself without relying on a company like Equifax.

“You’ll eliminate a lot of the problems and the vulnerabilities that you might face going forward,” he said.

That’s what Austin plans to do because she doesn’t want to become a victim of identity theft.

But no one can promise that won’t happen.

“If it does, I have to start all over, and I will not be pleased,” she said.

Schneiderman says his office aims to “get to the bottom” of how the breach occurred.

He says anyone worried about their own information should call the Equifax response line at 866-447-7559. He also encouraged consumers to monitor their credit and their accounts to check for unfamiliar charges or activity.

You can also place a credit freeze on your files that will make it impossible for someone to open new accounts and bank cards.

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