Over 145 Million People Were Exposed by Hacked Credit Reporting Agency
Privacy and security of personal electronic data continues to be a hot-button topic after one of the three major credit reporting agencies was compromised last summer in one of the largest-ever online breaches of sensitive data. Hackers gained access to files on over 145 million people – nearly 1 in 2 Americans -- after a breach of Equifax online server security that lasted from mid-May to July 2017. Unlike prior successful hacks to companies like Visa, Yahoo, and Blue Cross Blue Shield/Anthem, the collative nature of the data stored by credit bureau agencies exposed affected individuals to potentially greater overall personal and financial risk. The two other major credit reporting agencies TransUnion and Experian were not affected.
Equifax (www.equifax.com) electronic data contains the personal and financial information from several sensitive sources, including but not limited to personal information such as names, birth dates, and addresses. But the real scare comes from other data in the files that were stolen including social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers, and sensitive financial information. The credit bureaus are – in essence – one-stop shopping sprees for criminals attempting to steal the wealth and identities of unsuspecting Americans.
The Peoples Savings Bank values customer data and the stewardship entrusted by TPSB customers to protect it with the highest standards of industry best-practices. All businesses – including TPSB – use credit reporting agencies to access credit ratings, assess financial risk, and potentially approve loans for personal and business purposes. Your sensitive information is never shared with third parties that have no critical banking function to approve and/or manage your account, and all online account data such as TPSB online banking and mobile banking are protected with the highest levels of security and redundancy – routinely audited and approved by oversight agencies such as the FDIC and the state of Ohio.
While data breaches to third parties are oftentimes beyond consumer control, there are steps you can take to minimize exposure to help protect personal information. Check your credit report on a quarterly basis for unknown activity or records, and/or place a credit freeze/fraud alert on your credit agency account. You can also practice smart behavior on the Web by using anti-virus software on your computer, avoiding unfamiliar Web sites, and not opening or clicking email links from unsolicited sources.
“Cyber security is best accomplished by utilizing many tools for a multi-layered approach,” said Bill Evans, TPSB Assistant Vice President. “Our customers receive the highest levels of security in the banking industry – the same or better tools used by the large megabanks. We’re always looking at new technologies to improve online banking security while educating our customers on what they can do from their home or business to minimize the growing threats.”
The growing risk of cyber security is a never-ending challenge for anyone with sensitive personal information. As additional layers of security are developed to stop existing threats, criminals are inventing ways to find new back doors. It’s a battle of wits to stay one step ahead of the other.
“As a local, mutual, community bank, there’s an assumption by our larger competitors that we’re unable to provide the same – or better – level of security because of our size,” Evans said. “That’s not the case at all. In fact, we believe our footprint is a great asset because we’re more flexible to implement new industry best-practices without being slowed down by red tape. We’re quicker on our feet when we need to be, but that’s true for everything we do as a small community bank focused on service.”