Hey guys, I know I don’t usually have a post for you on Mondays, but I wanted to stop by today with a quick update about this Equifax breach. By now you’ve likely heard about how Equifax was hacked and a whole bunch of people are now at risk of identity theft because they’re personal information was compromised. It’s a bad situation. A huge, messy, complicated problem that is affecting many people, including those of us in Canada.
But I’ve never heard of Equifax, so I must be safe…
Not so fast. Unfortunately, even if you haven’t heard of Equifax, they have almost certainly heard of you. They are one of the biggest credit bureaus, so if you have any credit history, there is a very good chance you are in their database.
We already know that as many as 143 million Americans and 400,000 people from the United Kingdom are at risk because of the breach. The problem for Canada is that Equifax has only said ‘a limited number’ of Canadians have been affected but they have not disclosed a number. Even worse is that the breach happened way back in May and they are only now coming forward. This puts consumers in a bad spot, and there’s nothing we can do. Unlike other companies, we don’t have the option to take our business away from Equifax; it’s going to be up to the government to make them face some sort of consequence.
What can you do?
Right now it’s a waiting game. Equifax is apparently contacting people by letter if their data is at risk but who knows when that will happen. The Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) has already informed 10,000 people that they may be part of the breach. These people had identity protection through the organization, so it doesn’t apply to all CAA members (you had to sign up for it). Other than those select few, the rest of us are in the dark for now. Here are a few safeguards you can take to protect yourself.
There are a few safeguards you can take to protect yourself. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do at this point to stop identity theft due to the hack. Your actions will be reactive, but catching problems early can make things easier to correct.
- Carefully track your credit card statements for any fraudulent purchases and notify your credit card company immediately if you find anything.
- Check your credit report to ensure everything is correct (you should be doing this annually anyway).
- If you notice a problem with either your statements or your credit report, then you should notify the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
Equifax did set-up a website to check if you have been affected, but it is only for Americans at this point. I’ve also heard quite a few people recommend that you put a ‘freeze’ on your credit. This is also not available to us Canadians. So frustrating right?!
Equifax has said they would mail letters to any Canadians who have been affected, but there have already been reports of people receiving phone calls. There is a good chance these are scammers trying to take advantage of your concern and playing themselves off as Equifax to get your private information. Do not disclose any personal information to anyone who calls you, even if they sound official.
Other than that, keep an eye on your credit and wait for more information. Not ideal, but it’s all we’ve got right now.