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But he also points out that the "convenience of the digital age" is having your information readily available online for the people you want - and don't want - to easily access it.

Atlanta-based Equifax, along with TransUnion and Experian, store Americans' private data so that their customer companies can, for example, decide whether you're a good credit risk for a mortgage. The company doesn't believe that consumers from any other countries were affected. And they were not happy about it.

Analysts predicted there would be congressional hearings, an investigation by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, hearings at the Federal Trade Commission, and numerous lawsuits.

After other high profile breaches over the past several years - Target, Home Depot, etc. - companies like Equifax still have not learned. Since the information in your credit file will not be released to anyone, it makes it almost impossible for an identity thief to open a new credit account in your name.

Equifax announced last week that it experienced a data breach from May to July that exposed the full names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver's license numbers of 143 million Americans. You can use a credit monitoring service like Equifax's TrustedID (which they're offering for free for a year), but it's probably best if you also check your credit reports regularly yourself. Also, if your statement does not arrive as usual, contact the financial institution to make sure that an identity thief has not changed the address on your account.

"Hackers are resourceful criminals who are constantly looking to exploit any vulnerabilities, and I encourage everyone to educate themselves about how to best protect their personal information", he said. People trying the reach Equifax by phone have also been frustrated.

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"#Transunion credit freeze system is down following #equifaxbreach Maybe they don't want millions of people opting out of their system?" tweeted @alexsheshunoff.

Punishment enough? It's not exactly clear. A fraud alert lasts 90 days and can be renewed. It should not be that complicated. "This is a company that's in the business of protecting people's data and charging for it, so a breach here is not merely peripheral, as in virtually all of the other cases, but core to its business model", Korsinsky said. "I mean, your data is out there", said Dalziel. A giant hat tip, however, to the person on Twitter who pointed out the company's draconian terms and conditions.

First, check the potential impact at Equifax's TrustedID website. I have repeatedly asked a TransUnion spokesman, David Blumberg, for clarification, but I have not received it yet.

But when she filed a credit freeze with Equifax, the website said it was unable to process her request. These are helping to further inform our actions, and we are now sharing regular updates on this website. We recommend you read our own Fraud Watch column and follow the advice of Elliott Greenblott, the Vermont coordinator of the AARP Fraud Watch Network.

Those in the financial industry don't prepare for if there's going to be a breach, but they prepare for when there's a breach.