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Criminals took advantage of a "U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files" from mid-May through July of this year, Equifax said.

Equifax was founded in Atlanta in 1899, and over the years, has grown into one of the three largest credit-reporting agencies in the United States. However, the terms of service require customers to resolve any disputes against the company through binding arbitration and waive "the ability to bring or participate in a class action, class arbitration, or other representative action". However, there are options for those affected by the Equifax breach.

This story contains information from the Associated Press. "Unfortunately, it seems that this has become a reality for Equifax". You could be lifting and setting down that freeze, and that can get really expensive. Use your smart phone as a secondary log-in to Equifax or any of your financial, social media or other accounts that are password-protected. The line was busy most of Friday morning and through the evening. But it's unclear when or how you will receive that message.

"Obviously there's something going on with that site". It's probably on the back end it may not be connecting with the actual database or maybe on the backend it only has a listing of folks who have been impacted.

Equifax didn't immediately return a request for comment.

Attorney Roy Hadley represents clients who have been victims of data breaches. "Plaintiffs file this complaint as a national class action on behalf of over 140 million consumers across the country harmed by Equifax's failure to adequately protect their credit and personal information", the complaint reads, Cyberscoop reported.

What was even more shocking about this news is the statement from the agency that the intrusion begun in May and continued until it was finally discovered in late July.

With new breach notification laws set to come into effect in Australia next February, it's time to create and rehearse processes to detect breaches, report them to the Privacy Commissioner, and notify all affected parties. The executives probably will avoid punishment because the company quickly put out a statement saying they were unaware of the breach.

The chairmen of at least two U.S. House committees say they want to hold hearings.

"This is what happens when someone's watching", Werner said.

Signs of a breach should prompt a company's general counsel to head off stock trades of any kind until the crisis has been resolved and publicly disclosed, said Peter Metzger, a vice chairman at executive recruiting firm DHR International Inc., who specializes in cybersecurity searches.

Hulshizer says the person behind the breach could be trying to impact the US economy or maybe it's an organized crime ring.

It could take years for the credit reporting company to end the legal fallout from the unprecedented breach.