Equifax Breach affects millions of Americans

A credit score can determine if a person can get a loan to get his or her dream house or buy a new car. Millions of people had their credit and more threatened when hackers stole information from Equifax, one of the three largest credit bureaus, early this summer.

Over 1.4 million people had their information compromised by the breach. Most people had credit card numbers, social security numbers, addresses and/or their date of birth stolen.   

This breach affects anyone who had to have their credit score checked or shared their social security number, said Douglas Barrett, department chair of economics and finance.

“When you go get a loan, either for a car, house or one of the local stores, they will pull a credit report from one or two of (the credit bureaus),” he said.

Graduate student Lee Hall said the high number does not shock her.

“I actually expected it to be higher,” she said. “If you’re an adult, you’ve got loans and mortgages. So many people have student loans debt. To be an adult in America, there’s no way to survive without loans and credit.”

While this affects most people who have taken out loans, this does not affect those with student loans from the federal government, said Laura Bozovic, associate director of student financial services.

Credit bureaus will show an open account with the federal government, but they will not receive any other information, she said.

Barrett said the people who the breach affects are also in danger of identity theft.

“Anytime you have credit history, that information is sent to the credit bureaus,” he said. “The information includes your account information, payment history, name, date of birth and more. This is the information people can use to steal a person’s identity.”

Hall said people could have avoided this possibility if the company announced the information when they discovered the breach.

“It’s crazy they waited that long,” she said. “As adults trying to live and survive and make payments and be generally responsible, I’m blown away that they didn’t come to us earlier. An issue like this can cause a lot of damage in a short period of time.”

Barrett said students should perform a credit freeze and keep check on their credit cards and checking accounts.

“What (freezing your account) does is if someone attempts to get a loan in your name or any kind of credit, they won’t be able to,” he said. “The freeze makes it so that no new line of credit can be created. Another thing that can be done is to set up alerts. These can be set for a certain amount, so that you can be notified of that charge.”

This is not the first breach Equifax has had, but this is the one gaining the most publicity, Barrett said.

Sophomore Kristin Leeth said she does not want credit cards because of these breaches.

“My parents always preached to stay away from credit cards,” she said. “I’m even skeptical about gas cards. My roommate is the same because her mom works at a bank, and (her mom) has seen what happens when people get their accounts hacked.”


Hall said she is glad people are paying more attention to their credit.


“Credit is essential in this country,” she said. “I didn’t understand that when I was 18, and I screwed up my credit. As you grow up, you realize that credit is the lifeblood of this country. It’s what keeps everything going.”