The Equifax data breach may be one of the most harmful ever to citizens ever on a mass scale. The amount of information that the hackers attained will provide them the ability to fully take over an identity and the personal information stolen will already be extremely prevalent and available for sale on the dark web.
People whom become victims of identity theft as the result of this data breach, or any other for that matter will spend YEARS trying to get their financial lives back in order.
This data breach, which was sustained without detection for several weeks is a MAJOR deal that puts millions of people in harms way of identity theft. This includes Canadians.
Although the number of Canadian accounts breached are now reported to be only about 8,000 out of the 145.5 million overall, everyone in Canada should be on high alert. This is a wakeup call. Get your act together people and recognize that we are all breached and your number just hasn’t come up yet.
If it isn’t bad enough that some Canadians are all potentially exposed to identity theft through this breach and the hundreds of others that go unreported annually, there is an entirely new opportunity for scammers to have a field day taking advantage of people’s fear about the Equifax breach. Uncertainty and the media hype over this will have many people feeling vulnerable.
If you receive a call, text or email from someone claiming to be from Equifax stating that you are a victim and that they are looking to “resolve” the problem, hang up or delete the message. It is very likely a scam. According to CBC “Equifax said it will mail written notices to all of the potentially affected Canadian citizens”
They (scammers) will likely want to “verify it’s you” and will ask you to provide personal information about yourself and some financial information, including your Social Insurance Number. Everything they ask for can then be subsequently used to hijack your identity.
Unless YOU make the call to a trusted organization you will never be asked for information to prove it’s you when someone calls making a claim unless you are expecting the call. This holds true for any call you get from someone claiming to be from the bank, government or any other organization that holds personal information.
Since the breach was announced (two months after it was discovered), Equifax had their stock halted ahead of announcing that their CEO was stepping down. This was after both the Chief Information Officer and Chief Information Security Officer were forced out. This alone should provide evidence of the order of magnitude of the problem there.
Don’t get sucked in and become a victim. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are unsure and as always please visit the RCMP Identity Theft and Identity Fraud website for details on these types of crimes.