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Industry Insights

Musings and Actionable Insight A Year After the Equifax Breach

The Equifax Mega Breach | You’re Still Not Safe

It’s been a year since the Equifax data breach – one that affected nearly 148 million U.S. consumers in 2017. But even a year’s time doesn’t make the severity and sheer magnitude of this breach any better.

Aside from numbers, the highly-sensitive Personally Identifiable Information (PII) exposed by Equifax only heightened nationwide concern. Names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, and driver’s license numbers were among the millions of data points compromised.

When I first heard about the breach, I remember saying, “How could this happen?” However, in today’s connected, always-on world, it’s really not that surprising. In fact, Juniper Research predicts that 146 billion records will be breached over the next 5 years, with more than 33 billion being exposed by breaches in 2023 alone.

Even though it’s now 12 months later, no personal information is really safe no matter how much time has passed after a breach. Compromised PII will often find its way to the Dark Web where it can be bought, sold and dumped by criminals infinitely. In fact, nearly 1 in 3 data breach victims will later become victims of an identity crime.

I’ve worked in the financial services industry for more than 30 years, and one thing has never changed: criminals will ago above and beyond to steal your data because they know they can profit greatly from it.

148 Million Breach Victims = Endless Opportunities for Fraud

Part of this breach’s overall shock factor was that Social Security numbers and other highly-sensitive personal information were exposed. In response to the hack, Equifax offered one year of free identity protection services to all breach victims.

But one year of basic services is not enough to address the growing threats of identity crime that will only continue to evolve both online and off.

Protecting your identity long-term becomes more complicated when permanent PII is affected in a breach. While you can cancel a credit card or update a password, there’s not much you can do when information like your name, Social Security number and date of birth are compromised.

Full Identity Theft Protection: More than Just Monitoring

The Equifax data breach – along with the other 1,579 breaches reported in 2017, and the 790 breaches reported so far in 2018 – has changed what it means to “secure your identity.”

The long-lasting impact of this breach is most evident in record-high fraud numbers reported last year. Roughly 79 million Americans were identity crime victims, with $16.8 billion stolen by fraudsters in 2017.

Full identity protection is more than just a stop-gap service. It’s a combination of tools and resources that help promote a proactive mindset toward overall identity security. It’s in the little things like updating your passwords, keeping your Social Security card in a secure place, and avoiding public Wi-Fi networks when you can. Securing your personal data is knowing where it goes, managing who can access it, and putting the proper measures in place to help protect it from misuse.

The Truth About Identity Crime

I entered the world of fraud and identity theft protection over 10 years ago, and it opened my eyes to some identity crime hard truths:

  1. No matter what you do, fraudsters will keep finding ways to breach, hack, and ultimately steal personal, business, and government data for countless identity crimes.
  2. Nobody can prevent all fraud.

Securing your identity in today’s tech-enabled world will require a holistic approach to your personal data and full identity. As we have united with IdentityForce, a top-ranked provider of identity theft protection, our shared vision is to ultimately deliver powerful identity protection and cybersecurity solutions specifically built for today’s connected world.

We believe that effective identity protection focuses on four main components:

  • Monitor – A series of identity monitoring services should help detect fraudulent activity, especially within the Dark Web, and send an alert when data is at risk. 

  • Alert – An early warning system must rapidly notify you when your personal information is at risk. Whether delivered via smart phone, tablet, or desktop computer, you need the power to act before damage is done. 

  • Control – The ability to empower you so that you always know how your personal information is being used, whether it’s your credit score, protecting your keystrokes, PIN numbers, and credit card information. With early detection, you can rapidly minimize the damage. 

  • Recover – Identity theft victims can spend an average of 16 to over 600 hours working to restore their good name. Victims need access to a proven, white-glove restoration and recovery process designed to identify and isolate the fraud, then help prevent it from happening again. 

It’s also critical to ensure that with these combined efforts is also a strong foundation in fraud and identity theft prevention through education and empowerment. The EZShield + IdentityForce teams provide blogs, tools and additional resources to educate consumers and businesses about identity crime risks.

EZShield + IdentityForce | A Team Built on Excellence

I am proud that our combined teams champion the latest innovation, while continuously exceeding industry security and compliance regulatory standards.

Since 2013, EZShield and IdentityForce have been recognized by Javelin Strategy & Research as best-in-class award winners in the identity protection industry. Most recently, EZShield was named a “Leader in Restoration,” and IdentityForce was named “Best-In-Class” by Javelin’s Identity Protection Services Scorecard in 2017.

Uniting IdentityForce and EZShield has allowed us to provide the industry’s top-rated digital identity theft protection and cybersecurity solutions. Our team is committed to helping you and your own clients stay protected and aware of the latest scams and trends.

Partnering with us means that you are arming your customers and employees with what they need to fight fraud outside your organizational walls. Our hope is to offer solutions that address the growing fraud and identity theft risks for years to come. To learn more about our partnership opportunities, contact us today.

15-Minute Webinar | The Personal and Business Impact of Equifax One Year Later

Register for a webinar on Wednesday, September 26th, 2018. Donna Parent, CMO of EZShield + IdentityForce, will lead a 15-minute webinar to discuss how and why the impact of Equifax’s 2017 data breach can still be felt today.

Equifax Webinar

About Dale Dabbs

Dale Dabbs is the President and CEO of Sontiq, the parent company of the EZShield and IdentityForce brands. He is responsible for setting the company’s strategic vision and implementing initiatives to achieve its objectives of revenue growth and market share within the industry. Dale is a recognized leader with a proven record of delivering measurable and significant revenue growth and shareholder value, as well as driving organizational change by building strong executive leadership teams.

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