AARP Eye Center
Cybersecurity experts say older consumers need to be more vigilant about protecting their identity from hackers in the wake of new revelations that personal information was stolen from Equifax databases on 2.4 million more people than was previously reported.
The credit reporting agency’s disclosure adds to the 145.7 million people from the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom that Equifax had said were hacked last year.
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Equifax will notify the affected consumers by mail and will offer free identity theft protection and credit file monitoring services, similar to services it offered to other consumers affected by the data breach, the company says in a news release. The Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are investigating the incident.
In the Equifax breach, hackers were able to gain access to consumers’ driver’s license and Social Security numbers, birth dates and home addresses. Fraudsters can use that stolen data to apply for credit cards, personal loans and other consumer credit.
The latest batch of consumers identified by Equifax had only partial driver’s license information taken. But that’s often enough for scammers to access other personal information to commit fraud.
If you believe you’ve been hacked or that your information is at risk, security experts say you should check your credit report, credit card statements and bank records for suspicious activity, such as a bogus credit card charge or bank withdrawal. You can also lock or freeze your credit report at major credit bureaus.
Here are some additional tips to help prevent cyberfraud:
Use multiple forms of identification
Most web-based accounts require just usernames and passwords to log in. If you have the option, take advantage of multifactor authentication (MFA), which provides additional layers of security to prove you’re who you say you are, including such information as a fingerprint that can be provided on a cellphone.
Delete, delete, delete
“Put your hacker hat on for a moment,’’ says Robb Reck, chief information security officer for the Ping Identity security firm. “If a hacker were to break into your email, what would they find? What information do you have stored in obvious and not-so-obvious places?” Delete any emails and documents containing sensitive information that would make it easy to access your financial and business accounts, Reck says.