Equifax: living with the aftereffects of the data breach

This July 21, 2012, photo shows Equifax Inc., offices in Atlanta. Credit monitoring company Equifax says a breach exposed social security numbers and other data from about 143 million Americans. The Atlanta-based company said Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, that "criminals" exploited a U.S. website application to access files between mid-May and July of this year. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — It’s been a couple of weeks since we first learned about the massive Equifax security breach. Right after that, millions of us rushed to freeze our credit and sign up for one year’s free credit monitoring offered by Equifax. But, some experts say that isn’t enough protection.

The Equifax breach may have been the biggest data theft incident ever recorded, but cyber experts predict it won’t be the last and say from now on, we need to get used to the fact that our personal information is always going to be vulnerable electronically.

“Solutions such as credit freezes or credit monitoring will be just as normal as an insurance policy is for you,” says Stephen Riddick of CSP Computer Service Partners here in Raleigh. “We will see credit freezes or credit mechanisms become a way of life, just like everything else.”

Not only will you have to always make sure your credit is monitored, but you will need to take additional steps too. That’s because security experts say freezing credit only prevents less than 5 percent of financial crimes.

To protect your credit card and bank accounts, set up fraud alerts with banks and credit card companies. Also, you need to constantly monitor your accounts to check for unauthorized transactions. Says Riddick, “a lot of these criminals start with a small transaction to see if they have a hook. Then they come back later to make a larger transaction.”

Among data stolen during the breach, were birthdays and social security numbers — and you can’t change either of these. Ten years down the road, that data will remain compromised, so congress needs to act to create a unified protection law.

“Right now, we have 49 different laws around the country, we need a single law,” says Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, who is a member of the senate banking committee.

It’s not just individuals who need to worry about the Equifax data breach. Small businesses are also going to be hurt.

“Most stats show upwards of 50 percent of all security breaches hit small SBEs (small business enterprises),” says Riddick.

Riddick says when it comes to a protecting a small business from data breaches, “one size does not fit all.”

Whether you own a tiny landscaping business or a big construction company, the steps you take to protect yourself will vary.

“From a technology standpoint, there are different layers you can do,” says Riddick. “Talk to an expert who understands your business and where your technology assets are and build a custom plan for your specific business.”

As a consumer you have to realize at this point, there is no prefect solution, so make your finances priority one in your daily life.

The FTC has a site with resources to help you detect and prevent identity theft.

If you’ve been the victim of Identity theft use this link to report it and begin a recovery plan.

Email CBS North Carolina’s Steve Sbraccia if you have a consumer issue.

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