A local cybersecurity expert is urging consumers to find out whether their personal information was compromised in a massive data breach at the credit reporting giant Equifax.
Equifax announced last week that a breach likely took place early this summer, affecting 143 million consumers. Data that was accessed by the hackers included names, birthdays, addresses, and social security numbers.
Doug White, a cybersecurity professor at Roger Williams University, said that type of data could be used to develop more sophisticated phishing emails and scams.
“The minute I start adding personalized information to it, I can suddenly tailor it to you,” White explained. “I can also use it to try to con somebody else.”
According to White, consumers have almost no control over whether their information is absorbed into credit bureaus like Equifax. If you ever applied for a mortgage, a credit card, or a cellphone plan, Equifax, or a similar company likely has your information.
White recommended that people should be extremely vigilant for scams or identity theft, and warned that the people who stole the data will likely sell it to other groups hoping to use it for fraud, theft, or blackmail.