A woman in Maine came home to a funny sight earlier in March when her mailbox was stuffed with more than 300 envelopes, each containing a credit report.
Here's what's not so funny: None of them belonged to her.
Katie Manning contacted a local news station (WGME 13 TV in Portland, Maine) after she realized she had all of these strangers' sensitive information, and the station put her in touch with the state Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection.
Manning had requested her credit report from Equifax earlier in the month, she told WGME, but she received others' reports instead of hers.
"I'm not supposed to have this information, this is unbelievable, someone has messed up," Manning told WGME.
Equifax did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Credit.com, though Equifax's Vice President of Corporate Communications Tim Klein told WGME, "This is a high priority. Obviously this is a serious situation. I'm going to get our security and forensics teams involved."
William Lund, superintendent for the Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection, told Credit.com the bureau is sending the credit reports to Equifax attorneys so the agency can complete its investigation. Lund said his primary concern is that those affected by the breach — mostly consumers along the East Coast — are notified.
"I've been in touch both with in-state attorneys here and out-of-state firms for the company, and they are working hard to figure out what happened and to prevent it from happening again," Lund said. "They have told me that they have identified the issue and that there is no evidence of an ongoing issue with this particular situation."
Credit reports contain all the personal information someone would need to steal your identity and commit credit fraud — they include Social Security numbers, names, birth dates, addresses and employers, among various credit data.
Regularly reviewing your credit reports is one of the best ways to find out if you've been a victim of fraud (looking at your credit scores is another), which makes this situation a bit ironic, considering how this error could have resulted in a lot of fraud.
Despite the seriousness of what happened, it's still important to request your free annual credit reports as part of your regular financial practices. In between those checkups, you can use your credit scores as fraud indicators, looking at the same scores periodically to see if there has been a sudden change, which may be a sign of fraud. You can see two of your credit scores for free every 30 days on Credit.com.
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