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Experts say that the cyberattack—considered one of the largest data breaches ever— will greatly increase the opportunity for identity theft to occur.

Meghan Overdeep
September 8, 2017

Due to a security breach at Equifax, one of three nationwide credit-reporting companies in the country, the personal information of an estimated 44% (143 million) of U.S. consumers has reportedly been compromised.

On Thursday Equifax reported that the information accessed by hackers includes consumer names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. Furthermore, Equifax said that credit card numbers for about 209,000 U.S. customers were exposed, as was "personal identifying information" on roughly 182,000 U.S. customers involved in credit report disputes.

Experts say that the cyberattack—considered one of the largest data breaches ever— will greatly increase the opportunity for identity theft to occur.

Basically, it’s a big deal.

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Should you be worried? Yes. As CNN Money points out, because Equifax gets its data from credit card companies, banks, retailers, and lenders, not all of the people affected by the breach may even be aware that they're Equifax customers.

"This is a big deal," Jeff Golding, chief growth officer at IRH Capital, told The Street. "If you ever had your credit pulled, they have information on you. If you ever filled out a loan application, they will have data like your driver's license."

What to do:

Be extra careful about opening emails claiming to pertain to the breach, and change your passwords. Experts also advise keeping a close eye on your bank statements for suspicious activity over the next few months—crooks are patient. Equifax will send direct mail notices to consumers whose personal identifying information were impacted. It has also created a dedicated website for consumers to see if they were affected at www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.

The company suggests you sign up for credit file monitoring and identity theft protection, and is providing free service for one year through TrustedID Premier—whether or not you've been affected by the breach. You must submit your last name and last six digits of your Social Security number. Afterwards you will be given a date when you can return to the site and use the service.

Keep in mind that if you do choose to sign up for the credit monitoring service, you must agree not to sue on your own behalf, or benefit from any class-action settlements Equifax agrees to.

For more information and to find out whether or not your information has been compromised, visit EquifaxSecurity2017.com.