CRITICAL: Equifax Facts
Unless you live under a rock, you've probably heard about the recent Equifax breach. Even if you do live under a rock, there'a a good chance you may have been affected, as the breach covers about half of all bank-account owning American adults. We've got an FAQ here on what you need to know:
Someone gained access to all of Equifax's records, which includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. In addition, credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 U.S. consumers.
We don't know for sure yet, but we have learned that the Argentinian branch of Equifax apparently used "admin" for the username and password to their servers.
How can I check if I'm affected?
You currently can't; Equifax has a website up where they claim to let you check, but a number of security researchers have shown that the website is a sham, randomly generating a response as to whether you were affected. More critically, by submitting your info for the sham check, you are in fact agreeing not to sue Equifax. Everything about this is disgusting, and jail time should be a minimum for those responsible.
What's the risk?
The information taken is everything a person needs to commit identity theft, and that risk lasts until you die (or until the government takes steps to overhaul the entire credit system, which we guess is probably still until you die). The risk on this is extremely high, and should be taken very seriously. It's basically the golden key to access everything about you as an individual.
What can I do?
Do not visit the Equifax website. For now, assume your information has been stolen until you have a way to prove otherwise. Put a freeze on your credit via Experian here: https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html
(As if the lax security from Equifax wasn't enough of a middle finger to Americans, TransUnion has now made it impossible to sign up for a credit freeze by making the page difficult to find and breaking login pages, instead trying to force you into a different service entirely called TruIdentity.)
Unfortunately, a credit freeze will only protect you against things like new credit cards being opened in your name. People may be able to do things like open an account with a utility company in your name even with a credit report freeze. Your only recourse here is hope and prayer, as well as voting out politicians who want to deregulate industries that have the power to destroy your lives—which these days, seem to be most of them.