Credit reference and data agency Equifax has confirmed it will contact up to 400,000 UK consumers over its recent US data breach.
Equifax announced that its US parent company had been hit by a cyber breach on 7 September, and it set up a website for consumers in the USA to determine if their data had been accessed.
However, it has now confirmed that while its UK systems are unaffected, a file containing the information of UK consumers was stored in the US between 2011 and 2016 and “may potentially have been accessed”.
Information in this file includes names, dates of birth, email addresses, and telephone numbers. Equifax says home addresses, password information, and financial data wasn’t included.
It is contacting up to 400,000 UK consumers to offer them “appropriate advice and a range of services to help safeguard and reassure them”. These include a free ID protection service, which allows consumers to monitor their personal data and credit information, as well as alerting consumers to any information made public about them on the internet and social media.
Equifax says it will also provide links to services provided by other UK regulated organisations, which consumers “may prefer to take up in addition to or instead of the free services provided by Equifax”.
The provider does, however, believe that “due to the nature of the information… identity takeover is unlikely for the UK consumers who had their data potentially accessed in this incident”.
Patricio Remon, president at Equifax Ltd. (Equifax’s UK arm), says: “We apologise for this failure to protect UK consumer data. Our immediate focus is to support those affected by this incident and to ensure we make all of the necessary improvements and investments to strengthen our security and processes going forward.”
If you’re worried, get a copy of your credit report as it is one of the first places you can spot if someone is misusing your personal information. Review every entry on your credit file and if you see an account or even a credit search from a company that you do not recognise, notify the credit reference agency.
Also keep an eye on your credit card and bank account statements for unusual activity.
If you think you’ve been scammed, report the fraud as soon as possible to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or online at www.actionfraud.police.uk. You should also notify your bank or card provider immediately if you detect fraudulent transactions.