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More than 248,000 North Dakotans may have been affected by Equifax breach

In this file photo, Wayne Stenehjem talks during a stop May 19, 2016, in in Fargo. Dave Wallis / Forum News Service

BISMARCK — More than 248,000 North Dakotans may have been affected by a security breach at a major credit reporting agency, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said Tuesday, Sept. 12.

Equifax said last week 143 million Americans may have had personal information stolen by hackers. Stenehjem’s office said names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, addresses and credit card numbers are among the potentially stolen information.

The number of people potentially affected in North Dakota represents almost half of the state’s adult population, according to 2010 Census figures.

In an interview, Stenehjem said his office would investigate the “massive breach” and “take whatever action is determined to be reasonable under the circumstances.”

“We need to find out why it happened and why there was a delay, if any, in notifying our office and consumers about the breach,” he said, pointing to a state law that requires the disclosure of security breaches to the attorney general “without unreasonable delay.”

Stenehjem recommended consumers call Equifax at (866) 447-7559 to determine if their information may have been compromised. He said people can also check https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.

“North Dakotans who are concerned that the security breach at Equifax may have exposed their personal information should take immediate steps to protect against identify theft by placing a fraud alert on their credit reports,” Stenehjem said in a news release.

The attorney general’s website, attorneygeneral.nd.gov, has information on setting up a fraud alert as well as a security freeze, which may prevent others from opening fraudulent new accounts. Stenehjem said Equifax’s offer of one year of free credit monitoring is “not sufficient.”

“One would expect that a company as big as Equifax that has as much sensitive personal information as they do would do everything they have to do to assure that these kinds of things don’t happen,” he said, adding in his statement that he’ll insist Equifax “take extraordinary measures to make consumers whole.”

Parrell Grossman, director of the Consumer Protection Division in the attorney general’s office, said people are entitled to a free credit report each year from each of the three credit reporting agencies. Information on obtaining one is available at https://attorneygeneral.nd.gov/consumer-resources/consumer-rights.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

(701) 255-5607
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