The recent Equifax computer hack comes on the heels of prior data breaches that date back to 2013 that possibly affected Equifax and its customers. Equifax waited 40 days to disclose the most recent breach. It has excused its behavior on the theory that it had engaged an independent cyber security firm to conduct a forensic investigation in order to get the facts. The delay has drawn a hail of fierce criticism. Equifax’s problems underscore the necessity to plan and execute a strong information security plan that can prevent, detect, remediate and communicate with relevant stakeholders as to the risks, threats and vulnerabilities a company may face. The hack has been attributed to Equifax’s use of software that employed a previously identified U.S. website applicable vulnerability. Despite that, the company apparently failed to take expeditious action. You need to take action to protect yourself.
A credit privacy number, or CPN, is a nine-digit ID that can be used in lieu of a Social Security number for credit reporting and other financial purposes, like applying for a loan. Like an SSN, each person can only have one CPN. It’s used as a unique identifier for your financial transactions and lets lenders and credit reporting agencies keep an eye on your borrowing history. However, a CPN can help you keep your finances safe and hidden from the public eye. For that reason, it’s popular among elected officials, celebrities and people in witness protection programs. As the name implies, it’s mostly used by people who need a little extra privacy. A CPN isn’t always a substitute for an SSN, though: You can’t use it for documents submitted to the IRS or an employer, registering a vehicle or applying for a government loan, for instance. If you have a CPN, it’s on you to know when you can and can’t use it.