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In wake of Equifax breach, what to do to safeguard your info

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NEW YORK (AP) — There's no way around it: The news from credit reporting company Equifax that 143 million Americans had their information exposed is very serious.

The crucial pieces of personal information that criminals may need to commit identity theft — Social Security numbers, birthdates, address histories, legal names — were all obtained. And once your personal data is out there, it's basically out there forever.

Unlike previous breaches at Yahoo, Target and Home Depot, Equifax's role in the financial industry makes this breach far more alarming. The company is basically a storehouse of Americans' most personal credit information, knowing everything about people from when they opened their first credit card, to how much money they owe on their houses, to whether they have any court judgments against them.

Lenders rely on the information collected by the credit bureaus to help them decide whether to approve financing for homes, cars and credit cards. Credit checks are even sometimes done by employers when deciding whom to hire for a job.


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