SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- (09/08/2017) Over 143 million Americans were affected by the Equifax security breech which allowed hackers to access sensitive information, making identity theft an extremely likely possibility for almost half of the population.
"This is clearly a disappointing event and strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do. I apologize to every affected consumer," said Rick Smith, the Equifax CEO.
The breech which exposed customers' social security numbers, birthdays and even drivers licenses numbers, was discovered in late July. It was also uncovered that cyber criminals were able to gain access to over 200,000 credit card numbers by exposing a weak point in website software.
"Bad guys want to steal this information because it's very valuable. They sell it on the underground over years and years and it makes them a lot of money," said Corey Nauchreiner, Chief Technology Officer at Watchguard.
Even if you're not a customer of Equifax, there's still a strong possibility that the company could have your data as it receives information from credit card companies, banks and retailers to be able to determine a person's credit score.
"To be honest, this probably effects almost everyone in the United States," explained Nauchreiner. "Everyone touches a credit reporting bureau. If you buy a house, you get a job, you buy a car, they do a credit check on you."
Here in the Ozarks, residents need to be especially on guard, because Missouri ranks as the number-one state at risk for identity theft.
"Unfortunately with the way that the credit card agencies and credit card companies have gone, they've made it easy," said Marc Moyer, the owner of Cyberguard.
To protect yourself from identity theft, experts say to make sure to keep track of your credit accounts and be aware of your surroundings when making purchases. However, if you were included in the Equifax breech, the company says the only think you can do at this point is monitor your credit reports closely.
If you are concerned that you may have been one of the millions affected by the security breach, click here to see if you're at risk.