The Equifax data breach is still a big deal. Even if you never head of Equifax before last week, they have your personal information. But here’s something you might not know.
There’s hundreds of other much smaller companies that have all the information necessary for someone to steal your identity; your name, your date of birth, your Social Security number. And the information isn’t given to these companies by you. No, the information is given to them by third parties.
There’s no “signing up” for Equifax or these other, smaller companies. They have your information, period. It’s scary to know, but data collection isn’t option. You can’t sign up for it, therefore, most of the time, you can't opt out of it either. And there’s companies out there collecting data on your prescription drug purchases, when you buy a car or even return something to the store. And most of the time, we’re unaware these companies are busy collecting our information.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau compiled a list in 2016 of all the consumer reporting companies and it’s astounding to see where these companies get their information from.
For example, The Work Number is a company that provides employment and income information. It includes data collected from large private sector payroll processors and provides this information to employers. It also provides this information to government agency clients to determine an applicant’s social service eligibility or to inform child support collections.
Milliman IntelliScript is a company that collects information about your prescription drug history. If you authorized the release of medical records to your insurance company, the insurance company may have provided that information to Milliman.
There’s companies that collect your data is you rented a house, paid your light bill, have an auto loan, opened or closed a checking account or had a driving violation.
So, how does this relate to Equifax? At any point in time, a big or small company could be hacked and your information could be at risk.
And again, you can’t opt out of any of this data collection. But, you can secure your information. And in this digital world, it’s becoming increasingly important that we do this.
To protect yourself, freeze your credit with all three credit bureaus and check your credit report throughout the year. Here's how ->freeze your credit