Credit report reference agency Equifax has revealed that hackers have got hold of some customers’ information in a data breach. The Equifax hack mainly relates to 143 million US customers but it also affects some UK and Canadian data too.

If you use Equifax or get your credit report through ClearScore, you might worry about the security of your data.

Don’t panic – we’ll take you through everything you need to know about the Equifax hack. And if you’re not sure that your information is safe, we’ll tell you how to protect your data.

What is the Equifax hack?

Equifax said that criminals accessed US customers’ names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and some driving licence numbers. And what’s more worrying, they also took about 209,000 US credit card numbers.

If you’re a US customer, you can find out if your data is safe on a new Equifax security site. Customers can put in their Social Security number to see what information hackers have on them. They can also get any updates on the developing situation of the Equifax hack.

What UK data does it affect?

According to Equifax, fraudsters may have “limited personal information” about British customers. Equifax holds the information of 44 million British residents – but this data breach reportedly only affects 400,000 of them. If you’re one of them, Equifax says it will contact you.

The data breach isn’t as serious for UK customers – Equifax says hackers haven’t stolen any financial information. ClearScore says the hack doesn’t affect its systems or customers at all. So if you only get your credit report through ClearScore, there shouldn’t be cause for concern at all.

But depending on what data hackers have, you could still be at risk of identity fraud. This is when fraudsters pretend to be you to try and steal your money or set up accounts in your name. They could do this if they have your name, email address and date of birth.

If you’re one of the UK customers this affects, Equifax says it will be in touch. It will offer you free ID protection services – this will let you know if anyone tries to steal your identity.

How you can stay safe

At this stage, there doesn’t seem to be a lot to worry about for UK Equifax customers. It’s worth keeping an eye on that Equifax security site though, just in case anything changes.

But there are still a few good security practices you should follow to make sure your information stays safe.

Here are our top tips for avoiding identity fraud

  • Strong passwords: Don’t pick your kid’s name or your place of birth as a password. Instead, use this Government strategy to make sure your password is secure.
  • Limit your information: Give out the bare minimum information on Facebook. If you put your address on social media, it can make it easier to steal your identity.
  • Get anti-virus software: You can get a good anti-virus system for free. Windows Defender comes with Windows 8 and Windows 10 PCs or install Microsoft Security Essentials if you’re on Windows 7.
  • Shred your statements: If you still get paper bank statements or any other financial information in the post, make sure you get rid of it properly. These can be dangerous if they fall into the wrong hands.
  • Beware of Wi-Fi: Don’t log on to your bank while you’re on public Wi-Fi, like at a coffee shop. Anyone else on the Wi-Fi could potentially see your information.

More security and safety tips