Personal information of 143 million people may have been exposed in Equifax data breach
Authored by Nadia Kovacs, Symantec employee
Equifax has announced that cybercriminals have exploited a vulnerability in their website, allowing them to gain access to certain files. The data breach appears to have taken place from mid-May through July 2017. The company discovered the unauthorized access on July 29 of this year.
Cybercriminals stole names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, and addresses. In some cases, driver’s license numbers and even, credit card numbers were accessed. During the company’s investigation of this breach, it was also found that there was access to some personal information for some UK and Canadian residents.
How do you know if you have been involved in a data breach?
Usually, data breaches are disclosed via the company’s press release, which reaches news outlets in no time. If you hear about a breach involving an institution you do business with, contact the organization in question to check whether your data has been compromised. You can visit the organization’s website to see if there is a statement about the breach with any instructions about what to do next, or you can call the company’s customer service phone number.
Helping protect yourself in the event of a data breach
You may not know if you have been affected by a breach, so your best action is to be proactive. You can use the tips below to stay ahead of the bad guys and know what to look out for.
- Routinely monitor all of your financial accounts for suspicious activities, such as transactions you did not make. If your institution offers account activity alerts via text or email, sign up for them.
- Cybercriminals can now use this data to access other online accounts you may have via password reset questions. These questions usually ask you personal information about yourself such as a parent’s maiden name, previous addresses and other details. If you have used any of this data in those security questions, you should change those questions immediately.
- If the information that was leaked in the breach was as a Social Security number or other personally identifiable information, you may want to consider putting a security freeze on your credit report. This will prevent other institutions from accessing your report entirely, which will prevent opening any new credit lines or credit extensions under your name. Also be sure to contact the Social Security Administration if dealing with a data breach that involves your SSN about next steps.
- If you do encounter suspicious activity on your account, contact your bank immediately and inform them of the activity as well as the fact that your information was exposed in a breach. Secondly, contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) and file a report.
- If a password was involved in the breach- change it.
Breaches are common these days, the payoff for cybercriminals may be lucrative. As a result, it can be helpful if you add another layer of protection to your digital life by using an identity theft protection service. Such services can help protect your personal information by sending you alerts If suspicious activity is identified within their network, or if new accounts are opened with your Social Security number†. LifeLock is one such comprehensive service.
The unique combination of digital security by Norton Security and identity theft protection by LifeLock redefines what safety means in a connected world. These are just a few of the precautions one can take to help protect against identity theft.
† LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses.
WCMCA, Inc. was honored by Rural Development with a 2017 Outstanding Housing Partner Award. This home in Elbow Lake was helped with assistance from the Small Cities, Weatherization and Furnace Replacement Programs.
The Grant County Food Connection occurred on Wednesday, March 29 at the main office of West Central MN Communities Action, Inc. in Elbow Lake.
Nearly 10,000 pounds of food was distributed: 45 home deliveries were made to home-bound seniors and 68 households attended the food drop. Funding for the food distribution was provided by the Elbow Lake Community Healthcare Auxiliary.
Thank you to all of the volunteers from the local community and organizations (Wendell Fire Department, USDA, FSA, Grant County Social Services, Eagle Bank, WCA Schools, Vinco, University of Minnesota, Grant County HRA and the Healthcare Auxiliary).
Thank you to all of the volunteers for their hard work!
Volunteers from the Wendell Fire Department and Eagle Bank setting up for the food distribution.
Volunteers from the Elbow Lake community, USDA and Eagle Bank packing boxes for senior deliveries.
Student volunteers from WCA Schools (l to r): John Barber, Ross Anderson and Dawson Staples
A friendly lift for senior citizens
When Carolyn Navratil had heart surgery in January, she was told she wouldn’t be able to drive for three weeks. Yet the hospital in Fargo scheduled her for another appointment just two weeks later, which left Navratil in a bit of a predicament.
Then Navratil remembered a program she had heard of called Ready Ride, which matches volunteer drivers with senior citizens needing a ride in Douglas, Grant, Pope, Stevens and Traverse counties.
The program from West Central Minnesota Communities Action works in partnership funded by a grant from the Minnesota Department of Human Services. Though rides to medical appointments are a common need, social obligations or other errands are also part of the program.
“They coordinated it and I got a call back in a couple days telling me what it would cost and how it would work and giving me the name of the driver,” Navratil said. “She called me and introduced herself and got directions to pick me up.”
Nelson says her experience being a volunteer for the program has been positive.
“Before getting involved with Ready Ride, I was thinking I should be doing more community service but didn’t want to be tied down to a schedule,” Nelson said. “This was the perfect thing because I can kind of work it around whatever else is happening. They call and if you can do it, you can do it. And if you’re busy, you say, ‘Sorry, I can’t.'”
“(After picking me up from the hospital) she asked if there was anything she could do, and I said, ‘Well, I do need a prescription they wrote for me at Target,'” Navratil recalled. “She stopped and we went in and got it. She went above and beyond.”
Ready Ride has about 35 volunteers, with some only available for nearby trips, while others are willing to drive to the Twin Cities or Fargo-Moorhead.
“We prefer a 48-hour advance notice,” said Nicole Melaaf, volunteer coordinator. “For a long distance, the more notice the better.”
Ready Ride drivers are reimbursed for their mileage at the rate set by the IRS, currently 53.5 cents per mile, or they can donate that money back to the program
To schedule a ride, call (218) 685-7433 (RIDE).
WCMCA, Inc. has MNSure navigators available to help those regarding special enrollment period eligibility. Please contact WCMCA and ask to speak with a MNSure navigator.
Legislators and other community partners gathered on Saturday, January 28, to celebrate the great work being done in support of transportation throughout the area. The agencies that were celebrated at the event were the Douglas County Car Care Program and West Central Minnesota Communities Action, Inc. (Family Loan Program and Ready Ride). Bremer Bank was awarded for being a stellar community partner, whose efforts include funding for transportation programs through the Otto Bremer Foundation and loan servicing and financial connection to WCMCA’s loan recipients.
Pictured (left to right): Dave Snyder, MN Asset Building Coalition; Keith Swanson, Grant County Commissioner and WCMCA Board; Sara Carlson, Mayor of Alexandria; Representative Paul Anderson; Missy Becker-Cook, WCMCA CEO; Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen; John Peshek, Douglas County Car Care Program Board; Jill Amundson, WCMCA staff; and Randy Anderson, Bremer Bank.
ride happy. driving for joy.
Volunteer drivers needed:
Pope, Stevens, Traverse, Grant & Douglas.
- You pick your schedule.
- You pick your driving area.
- Mileage reimbursement available.
- Help seniors maintain their independence.
- Feel good that you are giving back to your community.
Call READY RIDE for volunteer opportunities: 218-685-RIDE(7433)
Ready Ride is supported, in part, by a Live Well At Home Grant from the MN Department of Human Services.
Powered by partnerships:
West Central MN Communities Action, Inc., Rainbow Rider, Grant County Social Services ride program and awesome volunteers like you!