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Important information about the recent Equifax Data Breach

What happened?

On Thursday, September 7, 2017, consumer credit reporting agency Equifax revealed a data breach that compromised the information of 143 million individuals.

The data breach occurred between May and July, 2017.

Hackers accessed and stole extremely sensitive information:

  • Social Security numbers
  • Driver’s license numbers
  • Some credit card numbers
  • “Personal identifying information” on customers involved in credit report disputes

You may be affected even if you’ve never used (or even heard of) Equifax.

Equifax creates comprehensive profiles of individuals by compiling data from multiple sources: credit card companies, banks, retailers and lenders who report on the credit activity of individuals to credit reporting agencies, as well as by purchasing publicly available information.

Here are some additional resources to learn more about the Equifax data breach:

Equifax has created a website to provide more information on the situation and an offer for one year of data monitoring. However, it is important to read the “fine print” on this offer as it limits individuals’ recourse in the event of material damages due to the breach.

Read the Notice of Data Breach from Equifax. On the state tab there is specific information for Massachusetts residents.

CNET has suggestions for consumers who may have been affected by the breach. The Federal Trade Commission has a one-stop resource to help with reporting and recovering from identity theft, as well as FAQs on how to “freeze your credit profile” as a way to protect it.

What can I do to protect my identity/information?

  1. Never share your User ID or password with anyone.
  2. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports for free by contacting one of the credit agencies (the one you contact is then required to notify the other two agencies). It will last for 90 days and can be renewed. This means that a lender must contact you to verify your identity before it issues credit in your name.
  3. Check your online bank statements and credit card statements on a regular basis, ideally daily. Bad guys can be very patient, so it’s important to keep an eye out long after this story fades from the headlines.
  4. Review your credit reports yourself to check for incidents of fraud.
  5. You can request a free copy of your credit report online at www.annualcreditreport.com. You are allowed a free copy once a year from each of the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
  6. Immediately report any suspicious or unauthorized activity – to us, the credit agency, and/or the credit card company. If you believe you’ve been a victim of identity theft, you should also contact law enforcement.
  7. Beware of phony email and/or phone scams (phishing): Cambridge Trust Company will never send you unsolicited emails or call you and ask you to provide, update, or verify personal or account information such as passwords, social security numbers, PINs, credit or check card numbers, or other confidential information. Please report any emails or phone calls that you receive asking you to update that information immediately!