Equifax hack: problems freezing credit

Millions of people are affected with their social security numbers, addresses and other pertinent details exposed by the massive security breach at Atlanta-based Equifax.

Cyber security expert James Azar with Cyber Hub USA in Alpharetta told FOX 5 News social media is a buzz with consumers complaining of not being able to freeze their credit on the apparently overwhelmed websites of the big three credit reporting agencies Equifax, Experian, and Transunion.

"You would expect a little more preparedness for that on the sites of those firms," said Azar.

Even if the credit reporting agencies were caught off guard, Azar said consumers don't have to be.

"They'll all have it under alerts," he said as he pointed to his bank website.

Azar showed FOX 5 News how he sets alerts on his bank website which consumers can do too.

Azar recommends placing an alert for as little as one dollar on accounts to be notified by text or email when your money is being spent by you or someone else.

"Any bank today has transaction alerts for any transaction that's done on your account, whether it's checking, saving, investment account and what not," said Azar.

Along with setting alerts, Azar recommends what Ginger Stutler is already doing, changing passwords and monitoring.

It is important information as the Federal Trade Commission confirmed it is investigating Equifax while some in Congress call for an inquiry and tougher regulations for all three credit reporting agencies.

The Associated Press reported Equifax traced the hack to a software flaw that could have been fixed well before the massive breach occurred.

For Azar, it is indicative of the fall out he expects after the massive security breach which exposed the records of 143 million American consumers.

"You're talking about an unprecedented amount of fake identities that are going to get sold to a lot of people," said Azar.

It's a prediction which also predicates Azar recommending another safety step involving changing your identification.

"When you renew your driver's license you can ask to get a new ID number. To really identify was it done by the person who stole your identity or was it you," said Azar.

RELATED: Equifax hack: How to freeze your credit

This is the statement Equifax sent FOX 5 News:

1. Updated information on U.S. website application vulnerability.

Equifax has been intensely investigating the scope of the intrusion with the assistance of a leading, independent cybersecurity firm to determine what information was accessed and who has been impacted.  We know that criminals exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability. The vulnerability was Apache Struts CVE-2017-5638.  We continue to work with law enforcement as part of our criminal investigation, and have shared indicators of compromise with law enforcement.

2. Temporary interruption to credit freeze sign-up link.

Due to the high volume of security freeze requests, we experienced temporary technical difficulties and our system was offline for approximately an hour at 5PM ET to address this issue.  We apologize for any inconvenience.

3. More details on consumer exemption from arbitration clause.

Questions continue to be raised about the arbitration clause and class action waiver language that was originally in the terms of use for the free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection products that we are offering called TrustedID Premier. We have removed that language from the TrustedID Premier Terms of Use and it will not apply to the free products offered in response to the cybersecurity incident or for claims related to the cybersecurity incident itself. The arbitration language will not apply to any consumer who signed up before the language was removed.