2 min read

Up to 44 million UK consumers may have had their identity put at risk after Equifax hack

Graham CLULEY

September 12, 2017

Ad One product to protect all your devices, without slowing them down.
Free 90-day trial
Up to 44 million UK consumers may have had their identity put at risk after Equifax hack

By now, you’ve no doubt read the news stories about the massive data breach at credit-reporting service Equifax which has put 143 million US customers at risk of identity theft.

Hackers stole personally identifiable data including social security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, and driving license information – alongside (in the case of some 209,000 consumers) credit card information.

But you would be wrong to think that it is only consumers in the United States who are at risk because of the breach.

Equifax has admitted that it also “identified unauthorized access to limited personal information for certain UK and Canadian residents.”

What Equifax doesn’t say in its advisory is just how many UK and Canadian citizens might be at risk, but a report from The Telegraph puts the number of potential British victims at 44 million.

Considering that the estimated population of the UK (including children who I would argue are less likely to be being having their credit rating checked) is about 65 million, that’s a frankly catastrophic figure.

And don’t imagine for a second that because you may have never heard of Equifax, or done no business with them, that you have somehow escaped from being affected by this breach. Many companies in the UK use Equifax’s credit-cehcking services when deciding if they want to take you on as a customer or not.

In short, you may never have had any direct dealings with Equifax, but they may still have had your personal data – and it may now be in the hands of hackers.

Things only get worse when you recognise just what it means to have key personal data such as names, dates of birth, and social security numbers (although these aren’t used in the UK) are exposed.

If, say, your password is exposed through a website breach you can always change your password. But try changing your date of birth, or your name… you’re stuck with them for life.

Identity thieves can use personal information such as dates of birth, names, addresses and social security numbers to fraudulently open accounts, take out loans and credit cards, or even buy a house… all without you knowing, and yet it’s you ultimately which might find yourself with a damaged credit rating as a result.

It’s no wonder, as The Telegraph quotes, that the likes of BT are keeping a close eye on the developing story:

“We are aware of the developing story and are monitoring the situation closely. Like many companies in the UK, BT uses Equifax services. We are working on establishing whether this breach has any impact on those services.”

In many ways I’m reminded of how T-Mobile’s CEO was unable to disguise his anger when Experian, a company tasked with credit-checking the phone company’s users, suffered its own data breach exposing social security numbers and other personal information two years ago.

You can’t help but feel some sympathy for the companies which placed their trust in Equifax, believing that the firm would take proper care of consumers’ information.

But most of all I feel sorry for the many millions of consumers who are currently utterly oblivious that their identities are at risk, and the potential problems they might face in the future.

tags


Author



Right now

Top posts

August Spam Debrief: Bitdefender Labs Warns of Fraud Campaigns Exploiting the Russia-Ukraine War

August Spam Debrief: Bitdefender Labs Warns of Fraud Campaigns Exploiting the Russia-Ukraine War

August 31, 2022

4 min read
Snake Keylogger Returns in Malspam Campaign Disguised as Business Portfolio from IT Vendor

Snake Keylogger Returns in Malspam Campaign Disguised as Business Portfolio from IT Vendor

August 30, 2022

2 min read
What is medical identity theft and how to protect against it

What is medical identity theft and how to protect against it

July 27, 2022

2 min read
Curious about Omegle? Here’s how the roulette-style chat platform can threaten your online privacy and security

Curious about Omegle? Here’s how the roulette-style chat platform can threaten your online privacy and security

July 07, 2022

5 min read
Identifying and Dealing with Online Bullying Is Not Impossible - School Presentation Inside

Identifying and Dealing with Online Bullying Is Not Impossible - School Presentation Inside

June 28, 2022

2 min read
Let’s Celebrate World Social Media Day by Improving Your Privacy and Security Online

Let’s Celebrate World Social Media Day by Improving Your Privacy and Security Online

June 28, 2022

3 min read

FOLLOW US ON

SOCIAL MEDIA


You might also like

Crypto Exchange Finds Location Data on Hacker, Recovers Some Stolen Funds Crypto Exchange Finds Location Data on Hacker, Recovers Some Stolen Funds
Silviu STAHIE

October 04, 2022

2 min read
German Police Arrest Three People Accused of Running Massive Phishing Campaign German Police Arrest Three People Accused of Running Massive Phishing Campaign
Silviu STAHIE

October 03, 2022

1 min read
Prison for ex-eBay staff who aggressively cyberstalked company's critics with Craigslist sex party ads and funeral wreaths Prison for ex-eBay staff who aggressively cyberstalked company's critics with Craigslist sex party ads and funeral wreaths
Graham CLULEY

September 30, 2022

2 min read