Senators worry troops could fall victim to fraud in wake of Equifax hack

A bipartisan pair of senators is pressing Equifax for details on how it plans to protect data on U.S. servicemembers caught up in a massive breach, underscoring fears of potential identity theft and financial fraud.

Sens. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) wrote to the credit reporting firm on Tuesday, raising concerns that active-duty troops stationed overseas might not have the resources to place credit freezes on their accounts if affected by the breach.

Equifax revealed on Sept. 7 that hackers had accessed personal information on as many as 143 million Americans earlier this summer, opening the credit reporting firm up to broad scrutiny.

“We are particularly concerned about the roughly 1.3 million active-duty U.S. military personnel, especially the nearly 200,000 currently stationed overseas, who may lack the access and resources required to place a credit freeze on their files or take other necessary measures to adequately protect their personal information,” Donnelly and Heller wrote in a letter to Equifax CEO Richard Smith.

“This could leave members of our military especially vulnerable to identity theft and financial fraud in the days, months, and years ahead,” they wrote.

The senators are the latest in a trove of U.S. lawmakers who have pressed Equifax on details surrounding the breach.

“We request that you immediately detail the specific actions Equifax will take to ensure our servicemembers are not victimized any further by thieves with access to personal information such as Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and home addresses,” they wrote, requesting a response by Oct. 6.

“It is incumbent on you to minimize the damage and remedy this wrong,” Donnelly and Heller added.

Equifax has offered free identity theft protection and credit monitoring services to those swept up in the breach. Under fire from lawmakers, Equifax has also waived fees associated with credit freezes until Nov. 21. Individuals can visit a designated website to determine if they were affected by the data breach.

The breach is currently under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission. Bloomberg reported Monday that the Justice Department is also looking into whether top executives may have violated insider trading laws by selling stock in the company before the breach was publicly disclosed.


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