Equifax’s offering — more than a month after the company discovered the breach, and several months after thieves began accessing the data — may come too late for consumers.
Thieves tend to sell and use such data quickly to capitalize on its value, Creighton said. In a Federal Trade Commission study from earlier this year, researchers found that thieves began to use stolen data within minutes of it being posted online.
“They probably already started using it,” he said.
Check your existing credit accounts for suspicious transactions, and pull credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com to check for new accounts in your name, Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com, said in a statement.
But you’ll also need to keep watching: Thieves could easily make use of the stolen data for years.
“When breaches like these happen, consumers need to be diligent — and not just in the short term,” Schulz said. “Just because nothing looks amiss on your bank statements or your credit report now, that doesn’t mean you haven’t been compromised.”
Join CNBC, the Aspen Institute and the most influential cybersecurity players from government, business and tech at the Cambridge Cyber Summit, Oct. 4 in Boston.