Just when you thought the Equifax data breach couldn’t get worse: The incident, which saw hackers steal personal data from at least 143 million people, is now inspiring scammers to try and steal even more information.
On Thursday morning, the Federal Trade Commission published a bulletin titled “Equifax isn’t calling,” and warned people to beware of phone calls impersonating credit bureau staff. Here’s how the scam allegedly goes down:
Ring, ring. “This is Equifax calling to verify your account information.” Stop. Don’t tell them anything. They’re not from Equifax. It’s a scam. Equifax will not call you out of the blue.
The FTC also advised people not to trust Called ID and to report fake calls to the FTC.
The agency didn’t elaborate on what exactly the Equifax impersonators are demanding, but it’s a good bet they are trying to trick people into revealing information like their bank account or credit card numbers.
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As a result of breach, which Equifax revealed last Thursday, hackers obtained a treasure trove of personal data—including Social Security numbers and home addresses—about a large portion of the country.
The breach increasingly appears to be the result of staggering incompetence by Equifax, which failed to take basic steps to protect the credit bureau’s website. Frustration over the company, whose stock has plummeted in the last week, has mounted upon revelations that company executives sold shares prior to disclosing the breach.
The company’s ineffective response, including flaws in a website tool to let consumers see if they’ve been breached, has further contributed to public anger. Now, the arrival of a swarm of scammers is unlikely to improve the overall mood about the incident.
While corporate executives rarely face significant consequences over data breaches, there is some hope the Equifax brass will be held publicly accountable. The company is facing a wave of class action suits and, on Tuesday, members of Congress, including Sen Ron Wyden (D-Or) and Orrin Hatch (R-Ut) turned up the heat on Equifax.