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Between May and July of this year, a yet-to-be-identified group of hackers had unrestricted access to the personal data of as many as 143 million Americans, according to a public admission made by U.S. credit scoring agency, Equifax, this week.
Along with basic information such as names, birthdays, and addresses, the exposed files allegedly contained almost all of a personâ€™s more sensitive data like their driverâ€™s license, Social Security, and/or Tax ID numbers. According to the report, somewhere north of 200,000 people had their credit card numbers stolen by hackers in the breach, and approximately 180,000 others had vital documents theyâ€™d submitted in compliance with disputes (i.e., receipts, signed affidavits, etc.) wiped from the system.
The situation was discovered on July 29, and continues to be investigated by the FBI as well as an independent security firm hired by Equifax, the report said.
For those whoâ€™d like to check and see if theyâ€™ve been affected by the hack, Equifax has launched the domain equifaxsecurity2017.com, where people can enter the last 6-digits of their Social Security numbers to find out. Unfortunately, it seems that as of right now Equifax is not offering firm confirmations of whether a person has been compromised or not; but rather, the company merely directs people to a page indicating when they can enroll in Equifaxâ€™s upcoming Planned Protection Service â€” a program the agency will be offering to customers free for one year if they enroll by Nov. 21, 2017. Alternatively, people have the option to simply ask that their credit scores be frozen for a length of time.
How This Is Relevant to iPhone 8
Since Citizens Bank, Appleâ€™s loan partner for the iPhone Upgrade Program, performs most if not all of their credit checks through Equifax, itâ€™s recommended that those whoâ€™re interested in scooping up an iPhone 8 (or any iPhone) later this month verify if their credit score and profile is in good standing beforehand. Likewise, the situation may have an affect on similar programs offered through wireless carriers like AT&T and Verizon who also perform credit checks for postpaid customers through Equifax.
Whether you’re planning to finance an iPhone 8 or not, itâ€™s probably a good idea just to check your status and clear up any discrepancies, if they’re found, especially since the data could enable hackers to access vital information like a person’s bank accounts or medical records. It seems like itâ€™s never a dull moment with hackers lately, and with our data accessible by so many agencies and entities at the mere click of a button, you can never play it too safe.