AG Peterson warns of Equifax information exposure

September 13, 2017 GMT

More than 700K Nebraskans among those vulnerable

LINCOLN — More than 700,000 Nebraskans and nearly 1.1 million Iowans had their personal information exposed because of the massive security breach at credit reporting company Equifax Inc.

Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson and Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller revealed the scope of the breach Tuesday, warning citizens to take steps to protect their identities.

“I would encourage everyone to act immediately to see if their identity information was part of the breach,” Peterson said.

In Iowa, Miller said he has opened an investigation into the security breakdown.

Both urged people to go to a web portal created by Equifax to see if their information was affected: equifaxsecurity2017.com.

State Sen. Adam Morfeld of Lincoln wants the company to actively notify Nebraskans affected by data breach.

Morfeld on Tuesday sent a letter to Equifax CEO Richard Smith calling for the company to comply with a Nebraska law requiring businesses to notify residents of security breaches that expose personal information.

Peterson said his office is committed to ensuring that Equifax complies with all applicable state laws.

Morfeld also called for Equifax to provide free credit monitoring for life to Nebraskans affected by the breach. The company has promised free credit monitoring and identity theft protection services for one year. Morfeld said that offering only a year of free monitoring means Equifax, which provides credit monitoring as a paid service, stands to profit from its security breakdown.

Equifax announced to the public on Thursday that a “cybersecurity incident” had exposed the personal information of approximately 143 million Americans. The company said it became aware of the breach on July 29.

The information includes Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some cases, driver’s license and credit card numbers.

Peterson said his office was notified of the breach directly from Equifax on Friday. His office is working with other state attorneys general to gather additional information from the company.

At the Equifax web portal, people have to enter their last name and the last six digits of their Social Security number to find out if their information was involved. The company also has set up a dedicated call center at 866-447-7559, available from 6 a.m. to midnight CDT.

Peterson cautioned those affected to be sure they are signing up for Equifax’s free service and not its paid service. He also said that other companies offer similar services.

He and Miller recommended that people affected by the breach take the following steps:

» Closely monitor your credit report for suspicious activity. Visit annualcreditreport.com to get your free credit reports.

» Actively monitor your financial statements. Promptly dispute any unauthorized charges.

» Consider placing a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit report. This prohibits a credit reporting agency from releasing any information from your credit report without written authorization and makes it harder for an identity thief to access credit in your name. Fees may be applied for placing, temporarily lifting, or removing a security freeze.

» Be wary of breach-related scams. Do not provide or “confirm” personal information to a caller who claims the call is related to the data breach. Be wary of emails, which can be fake but look authentic.

For more information, visit the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office’s Consumer Protection Division website at protectthegoodlife.nebraska.gov/identity-theft or the Iowa Attorney General’s office, iowaattorneygeneral.gov.