Scammers are using the recent Equifax data breach to contact consumers and defraud them. The FTC warned that consumers have been receiving calls from individuals posing as Equifax employees, calling to “verify” account information. Be aware that this is a scam and these callers are only out to get your information to use it fraudulently.
Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit reporting agencies, experienced a data breach that lasted from mid-May through July 2017, which exposed the information of 143 million American consumers and individuals in the UK and Canada. The thieves accessed sensitive personal information of consumers and stole credit card numbers of approximately 209,000 people, as well as dispute documents that contained the personal information of about 182,000 individuals.
Scammers are always quick to pick up on the latest trending news or event and spin it in a way so they make a profit. Identity theft is a major and common concern. These crooks often use the information they gather to make fraudulent purchases, open up accounts using stolen information, and commit other crimes. If you receive a call out of the blue from Equifax or anyone requesting your personal or financial information hang up—it is most likely a scam.
Other tips to keep in mind are:
Don’t rely on Caller ID. Scammers have been known to spoof their numbers to look like the call is coming from specific businesses, agencies, and individuals.
If you pick up a call and hear an automated message, it is probably a robocall, which are illegal. They may ask you to press a number to speak with an operator or remove your number from a list, but do not do it. Hang up the call. If you respond by pressing a number, you will almost certainly receive more robocalls or perhaps incur unauthorized charges on your phone bill.
Review your bank account to identify any odd or unfamiliar charges.
Check your credit report for inquiries, lines of credit you did not authorize, or anything that looks inaccurate.
Consider setting up alerts so you are notified about transactions that are occurring with your account. If a charge is made, you will receive a message alerting you. Many banks and financial institutions offer this service at no cost and allow you to get notifications on your mobile device.
Contact your bank or financial institution immediately if you discover anything amiss.
You may want to request a replacement card from your bank.
Explore credit or identity monitoring services.
If you are scammed by a caller, report the incident to Business Consumer Alliance to warn others. BCA works with a number of government agencies, law enforcement, and media outlets who investigate frauds and take action.
Whether your information was exposed in the Equifax breach or not, U.S. consumers can get a year of free credit monitoring and other services through Equifax’s website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. By visiting the website, you can check to see if your information was exposed and get other helpful information.
If your information has been compromised by a security breach and you experience identity theft, there are options available, including placing a credit freeze on your report, or even requesting a new social security number if your original information has been used repeatedly for ID fraud. Check out BCA’s guide on Identity Theft for more tips and information.
Everyone is a target for scammers. Share this article and tips with all you know so they are not the next victim. Also, follow BCA on Facebook and Twitter for consumer news, scam alerts, business tips, and more.
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About Business Consumer Alliance
Business Consumer Alliance (BCA) is a non-profit company that started in 1928. The broad purpose of BCA is to promote business self-regulation. BCA's mission is achieved by assisting consumers in resolving complaints with businesses and using that complaint information, along with other relevant information such as customer reviews, to forecast business reliability. With community support, BCA can identify trustworthy and ethical businesses and warn the public to avoid unscrupulous businesses whose purpose is to defraud the marketplace. BCA also helps businesses promote themselves by providing services and tools to protect their business and reach out to their customers. BCA obtains its funding from member businesses who support the mission and purpose of the organization and who agree to abide by high standards of ethical business practices.