After Equifax credit breach, AG Lisa Madigan urges Illinois residents to be on alert

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Federal Trade Commission is now investigating the massive data breach targeting credit reporting firm Equifax.

The FTC wants to know how hackers were able to access the Social Security numbers and other information of 143 million Americans.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said 5.2 million adults in Illinois have been impacted by the Equifax breach. But Madigan says even if you haven't, every consumer should be on alert and take action to protect your personal information.

More than half of Illinois residents have been impacted by Equifax's data breach. Social Security numbers, addresses, credit card numbers and much more have been leaked.

"There is a very good chance if your information wasn't compromised and stolen in the Equifax breach, it has been out there at some point," said Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Madigan says it's not a matter of if, but, when you will become a victim of identity theft. Besides keeping close tabs on your bank and credit card accounts by putting alerts in place, Madigan says the first line of defense is freezing your credit report with the three major companies, Equifax, Transunion and Experian

"In the state of Illinois, if you are over the age of 65, if you are an active duty service member or if you have been a victim of identity theft, there is no cost to put in security freeze there is no cost with Equifax," Madigan said.

But there is a fee with the other two companies. Madigan is working on changing the law to prevent the credit companies from charging for credit freezes.
Like the Target and Home Depot breach was a few years ago, the Equifax breach is being called a game changer.
Canh Tran's company Rippleshot works with banks to detect breaches. He said in the long term, extreme measures may have to be taken to protect consumers' identities

"We may have to go to a digital defense of each consumer, where we monitor your data behavior, all of it, your web behavior, your mobile behavior, your credit behavior 24/7," Tran said.

Tran said for years hackers have been one step ahead.

"The fraudsters are doing it 24/7 and our defenses are not 24/7," he said.

Many experts says the Equifax breach should be treated like a category 5 hurricane or an oil spill. Some say what may be needed is a regulatory agency for data.

Meantime, since 2006, Lisa Madigan's office has a unit devoted to helping victims of identity theft and helping consumers prevent it.

For more information on the Equifax breach, click here.
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