The personal information of millions of Americans has been at the heart of two of the biggest controversies in the last 12 months. The Equifax data breach, which was disclosed in September, continues to reverberate around the country.
More recently, Facebook created a firestorm when it divulged that members who had used a third-party app had their personal information used by a company that worked to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Survey: More people worried about Equifax data breach than Facebook
Both of the incidents constitute massive breaches of trust – but one is clearly more threatening than the other, according to a new poll.
More than half of Americans — 54% — say they’re more worried about the Equifax hack than the Facebook incident, according to a survey by MagnifyMoney.
When asked about the Facebook data scandal involving political analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, 43% of poll respondents said they were concerned.
When former Equifax honcho Richard Smith was called to account before Congress, he was publicly lashed with the full backing of U.S. consumers. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s turn in Washington this week, where he has been quizzed on his company’s role in the spread of fake news and privacy, elicited a more nuanced response from people.
But the MagnifyMoney poll shed light on another area of concern: The number of people who actually take data breaches serious.
“As far as the Equifax scandal is concerned, 50% of Americans say they haven’t taken any action to protect their sensitive information in the months since the September 2017 breach,” the poll said.
That information squares with what we’ve reported earlier and shows that relatively few people have been roused to act.
“The most reported action was simply checking one’s credit report for shady activity, which only 22% of respondents reported having done. Ten percent have closed unused credit accounts, frozen or locked their credit files (8%) or changed their ATM PIN information (7%).”
Money expert Clark Howard says people shouldn’t play around with the Equifax data breach. Because the hackers swiped Social Security numbers, names, addresses and even some bank information, he says the most important thing a consumer can do is take a two-part step to protect their credit.
Two things you need to do to protect your credit
- Sign up for a Credit Sesame or CreditKarma.com account to get free credit monitoring and be notified when anyone tries to apply for credit in your name. Here’s a step-by-step rundown of how to do it.
- Freeze your credit with the three major credit-reporting agencies. Here’s an in-depth guide on how to contact Equifax, TransUnion and Experian to freeze your accounts.
RELATED: Are free credit freezes coming?
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