Now more than ever, in the wake of the massive Equifax data breach, Americans need check their credit reports along with the credit scores.
But about 61 million Americans — just over a quarter of all credit consumers — reviewed their credit score or credit report in the two weeks following the news of the Equifax hack on Sept. 7, according to a recent CreditCards.com report.
The national telephone survey of 1,001 U.S. adults found 26 percent reviewed their credit scores or their credit reports during those two weeks, CreditCards.com said. The data breach left nearly 146 million Americans’ personal information, including names, addresses and Social Security numbers, vulnerable to identity thieves. It also exposed the credit card numbers of 209,000 consumers and dispute documents for 182,000 people, Equifax said.
Consumers flooded the websites and call centers of Equifax and the other two major credit bureaus – Experian and TransUnion – in the wake of the breach.
“The Identity Theft Resource Center has received the most calls to its call center in any month since we’ve been tracking that,” Eva Velasquez, CEO of the ITRC, said in late September. “We’ve received by far the most visitors and page views to our website, specifically to our information on what to do if you receive a data breach letter and on credit freezes.”
However, CreditCards.com says that many consumers still aren’t taking the proper steps to fight fraud.
“Our survey found that 21 percent of consumers have never checked their credit reports or their credit scores – including many who said they’ve heard ‘a lot’ about the breach,” says CreditCards.com. “Meanwhile, fraudsters are licking their chops over a feast of personal data that can be used to open.”
Here are other key findings from the survey:
- 37 percent of 27- to 36-year-olds checked their credit reports or credit scores in the two weeks after the breach – a higher percentage than any other age group.
- Half of consumers age 18-26 said they weren’t aware the Equifax breach occurred.
- 53 percent of respondents said they heard “a lot” about the data leak, but didn’t check their credit reports or scores.
- 14 percent said they checked their credit within the past two weeks despite not hearing anything about the breach.