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Posted on May 4, 2021 by in Data Breach & Technology, Identity & Privacy, Personal

On April 26th, 2021, an independent security researcher uncovered a data leak caused by an unsecured Experian application programming interface (API) while researching student loan vendors online. The tool, used by Experian and many other lending sites, allowed anyone to easily access the private credit scores of tens of millions of Americans by supplying their name, date of birth, and mailing address. Although not yet confirmed, it could be only a matter of time before this information makes its way to the Dark Web and in the hands of cybercriminals.

What sensitive information did the Experian leak expose?

The flaw to Experian’s API capabilities allowed anyone with access to your name, address, and date of birth – information that is both publicly available and often disclosed in data breaches – to access an automated FICO-score, or credit score, as well as four risk factors or indicators that explain the score rating. FICO-scores are used in more than 90% of the credit decisions made in the U.S. meaning it drives credit approval for loans, homes, vehicles, and many other major purchases. Malicious use of this score with other Personally Identifiable Information (PII), could impact your financial wellness and future.

Five tips for potential data breach victims

  1. Request a Free Copy of Your Annual Credit Report: Take great care to review your credit reports. If you find inaccurate information, contact the companies listed on the credit report(s) directly. You can also contact the Identity Theft Resource Center, a non-profit, at (888) 400-5530 to assist you, and/or subscribe to an identity and credit monitoring service to alert you when your personal information is used, as credit monitoring alone is not enough.
  2. If You Confirm That You’re A Victim Of Identity Theft, Create An Identity Theft Report With The Federal Trade Commission (FTC):  Expect law enforcement to request a copy of this report when you contact them.
  3. Consider Placing an Extended Fraud Alert or Security Freeze on Your Credit: Creditors will still have access to your credit file, even though you have placed a 7-year extended fraud alert but must first contact you to verify your identity before extending credit. A credit freeze generally prevents creditors from accessing your credit file. To request one, you must call each credit bureau directly. Laws vary by state and you can learn more about specific state regulations related to a credit freeze.
  4. Contact the Social Security Administration: Request a copy of your wage earnings report to verify that your social security number is not being used fraudulently, which could result in you owing taxes for wages earned by someone who’s stolen your information.
  5. Contact Your Health Insurance Carrier: Request a copy of your health insurance statement to identify any fraudulent medical claims.

Resources for data breach victims

Has your identity been compromised? Tips and recommendations to protect your digital financial wellness

Another day, another security incident. This technology breach affects nearly every American. Experian’s data leak reminds us all of when another major credit bureau, Equifax, fell victim to a data breach, shy of just four years ago. The Equifax data breach in September of 2017 impacted 148 million individuals. The volume and velocity of data breaches continue to heighten, with the total number of records compromised in 2020 exceeding 37 billion, exponentially increasing the chances of your personal and financial information being stolen by cybercriminals. At IdentityForce, the best advice we can continue to provide is to stay vigilant and get protected.

Most data breach victims do not change their passwords after a known exposure. Thursday, May 6th, 2021, is National Password Day. View our Password Infographic to help you create strong passwords and further secure your digital footprint.

Comprehensive ID theft protection will include credit reports, credit scores, and credit protection, but will also provide proactive monitoring of all the critical components that make up your digital identity, including personal information in public records, social media networks, the Dark Web, and people search sites.

LIVE WEBINAR | WED. MAY 19TH | Think your identity has been compromised? Join Sontiq, the parent company of IdentityForce, for an exclusive live webinar featuring one of our experts from our best-in-class Restoration Team. You’ll hear first-hand insight, tips, and recommendations on how to best protect yourself and your family when identity theft happens. Secure your spot today.

Sign up today for the #1 ranked Identity Theft Protection Plan

IdentityForce’s UltraSecure+Credit monitors not only your credit reports but also provides you with quarterly three-bureau credit reports and monthly Credit Score Tracker™, as well as additional credit monitoring tools. Proactive alerts when a new application is being submitted such as for a car loan, new mobile account, or home mortgage can help spot potential fraud quickly and drive you to action. Our U.S.-based Certified Protection Experts offer comprehensive, 24/7 recovery services. We’ll complete paperwork, make calls, and handle every detail to restore your identity.

IdentityForce is ranked as the #1 Identity Theft Protection provider by leading review sites, including TechRadar, Tom’s Guide, CNBC, and Investopedia. Let us show you how IdentityForce can help you protect what matters most. Start your free 30-day trial today!