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Equifax reports data breach

A company that provides credit monitoring services, Equifax, said Thursday that a recent security breach may have compromised the privacy of as many as 143 million consumers in the U.S.

A company that provides credit monitoring services, Equifax, said Thursday that a recent security breach may have compromised the privacy of as many as 143 million consumers in the U.S.

The infiltration was first discovered July 29, Equifax said in a statement.

"Criminals exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files," Equifax said.

Americans' names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, addresses and even driver's license numbers were among the pieces of information stolen.

"209,000 U.S. credit card numbers were leaked, as well as "certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers."

The company's shares fell more than 5 percent in after-hours trades.

The Atlanta-based company has established a website, where people can check to see if their personal information may have been stolen.

On the site, people can enter their last name and part of their social security number to see if they were affected. From there, Equifax is offering a credit file monitoring services but the offer comes with some conditions if you sign up you'll be required to sign away your right to sue Equifax. By waiving away that right, instead, you'll have to agree to mandatory arbitration.

Attorney General Rutledge, in connection with other states, has begun a thorough review of this data breach to assure that Equifax takes steps to minimize the exposure of Arkansans’ personal information. Arkansans who feel they may be a victim of this breach should contact the Attorney General’s office at (800)482-8982 or at ArkansasAG.gov.

According to Attorney General Rutledge, there are red flags that indicate you may be a victim of ID theft:

• Receiving unexpected bills or collection calls. Getting an account statement for an account that you did not authorize is an indication that you may be the victim of identity theft. Likewise, getting collection calls from a creditor or debt collector regarding an account that you did not authorize is an indication that you may be the victim of identity theft.

• Not receiving expected bills or account statements. If your monthly credit card statement stops coming to your address, this could be an indication that someone has stolen your mail or changed your account statement mailing address. Promptly report this to the account provider.

• Having a credit application denied when you have no reason to believe you have a problem with your credit history. Be sure to periodically review your credit report, and always review it again before you make an application for credit on a big purchase.

Tips if you are a victim of ID theft:

• Consumers should review their bank statements and stop payment on any suspect transactions.

• Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Contact the company involved to dispute the fraudulent transactions or accounts, and follow up with the company in writing. Ask the company whether a fraud affidavit is required. If a fraud affidavit is required, the company may send a specific affidavit.

• Consider placing a security freeze on credit reports. Victims of identity theft may freeze a credit report without charge. A security freeze is designed to restrict access to a credit report and help prevent additional instances of identity theft.

• Consider applying for an Identity Theft Passport from the Attorney General’s Office. The ID Theft Passport may be used as an additional form of identification and may be presented to creditors or other businesses investigating alleged debts.

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