CSUN Faculty, Staff and Students,
Given the recent announcement regarding the data exposure at Equifax here are some best practices and resources that may help if your information was compromised. The current estimate is that 143 million U.S. consumers were affected by the breach, and there is a good chance that you are impacted.
Equifax has said there is no evidence of unauthorized activity in their credit reporting data bases but that there was potentially unauthorized access to information it stored from mid-May to July of this year. That information included SSN's, DOB's, addresses and in some cases Driver’s License numbers. Also reported is that approximately 209,000 consumers credit card numbers were exposed as well as other “dispute documents” for 182,000 consumers.
What can you do?
- One of the first things to do after a breach is to access credit reporting agencies and request your records to be sure there are no unauthorized accounts or charges. In this case you may want to consider the other agencies, Experian and TransUnion. Also check your bank and credit card accounts for suspicious activity. You may also request that all activity be frozen on your credit report for a small fee. This makes it less likely that an identity theft can open up a credit card or bank account in your name. They can be temporarily lifted when you need to apply for credit yourself. Please see the credit bureaus for details.
- Be extra wary of scam emails and links as many criminals will use this opportunity to further phish for information. Avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from suspicious emails. Equifax will send paper mail to consumers but hackers are sure to use this to conduct Phishing campaigns. At CSUN we have proactively blocked over 300 potential phishing domains and URLs in an effort to protect the campus from a phishing attack.
- Change passwords especially if you had an account with Equifax and use similar or the same password elsewhere.
- You can check at Equifax here to get information and to check and see if your records are impacted. You can also access your Equifax credit report here. Probably a good idea so you can compare with the ones you get from Experian and/or Transunion. Equifax is offering one year free credit monitoring. Please read their terms of service carefully before signing up.
- Lastly, there are credit monitoring services that are available for a fee. They do make it easier and more convenient to monitor your credit and identity than the free services but the convenience does come with the monthly fee.
It has been noted on a major security web site that Experian, one of the credit bureaus, presents multiple choice answers to knowledge based questions that can be social engineered by reviewing social media sites. This potentially gives hackers the opportunity, via targeted research, to lift the credit freeze on your account. Despite this we still believe that a credit freeze on all major credit bureaus is a viable option for protecting yourself as a response to the Equifax breach. We recommend that when you set up the credit freeze that you give answers to the challenge questions that are difficult to social engineer and limiting the personal information your share on social media.
Please contact me if you have any additional questions.
Senior Director Information Systems and Information Security Officer