Friday, March 19, 2004

Incident: Equifax admits that more than a thousand credit reports have been compromised

In the last week, the Canadian media have been abuzz with news about a huge security breach on the part of Equifax that apparently allowed criminals access to credit reports on 1,400 Canadians. Credit reports are the best starting place for identity thieves, since they contain names, addresses, social insurance number, birth date, employer, banking information, etc.

Some of the coverage includes:

The Globe and Mail: "'If this was done by a couple of kids who had a friend inside at Equifax who started selling passwords, that's one thing. In that case, I'd be watching my credit cards like a hawk. But if it's linked to Eastern European criminal gangs linked to extortion, that's something else again, and I would be a lot more concerned.' Equifax confirmed on Monday that the credit reports of about 1,400 consumers, primarily in British Columbia and Alberta, 'were accessed by criminals posing as legitimate credit grantors.'"

Credit agency reports security breach - Computerworld: "MARCH 17, 2004 - TORONTO - More than 1,400 Canadians, primarily in the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, have been notified of a major security breach at Equifax Canada Inc., a national consumer-credit reporting agency.

Equifax confirmed yesterday that it discovered the breach in late February and has notified affected consumers via registered mail asking that they contact the agency to review the contents of their respected credit files. "

Albertans on identity theft hit list: "Criminals posing as credit grantors accessed files, including bank account numbers, credit histories and home addresses. Valerie McLean, of Vancouver's Better Business Bureau, says once a criminal gains access to someone's credit file, they can essentially steal that person's identity.

'They have your date of birth. They have your full name. They have your former names. They have your occupations. They have your address. And they know what financial institutions you're doing business with and what credit cards you hold,' she said." - Personal info stolen from Equifax database- CTV News, Shows and Sports -- Canadian Television: "Though the company only announced the security breach on Monday, the RCMP has been investigating for the past month.

'The RCMP is in fact looking into this matter,' confirms RCMP Sgt. John Ward, but would say no more. It's not the first trouble for Equifax. The company was targeted by criminals two years ago, stealing 2,500 credit reports from mailboxes. Using the information, the thieves applied for new credit cards."

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