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Equifax: The Stakes Are High

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last 30 days, you have probably heard about the Equifax data breach. On Sept. 7, Equifax, one of America’s three main credit-reporting agencies, announced that hackers had exposed vital personal identification data — including names, addresses, birth dates and Social Security numbers — of as many as 143 million consumers, roughly 55 percent of Americans aged 18 and older.

Over my career as a Certified Financial Planner, I’ve experienced global catastrophes, major market meltdowns and the housing crisis. Yet nothing has created as much confusion and uncertainty as the realization that one’s personal financial records are at risk of being compromised by anonymous cybercriminals.

This single issue is far more concerning because in today’s world one’s credit score determines if you can participate in the economy or not. Your credit score dictates whether you can take out a mortgage, borrow money to pay for your children’s education or even sign up for cable service.

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