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COLUMBIA - A day after the Equifax hack was announced, Columbia bank officials say there’s not a good way to know if your information has been breached.

Equifax, one of the three credit bureaus in the nation, announced Thursday nearly 143 million Americans may have had their identities stolen. Hackers may have obtained consumers’ names, Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, birth dates, addresses, and in some cases, drivers’ license numbers. 

Equifax is largely used in the Midwest by banks and credit card companies to check customers' credit scores. Most people have never been in direct contact with the company but they could still be affected because their bank or credit card company might be.

Thursday morning Equifax tweeted a website it recommended customers go to check to see if they have been hacked. The site, equifaxsecurity2017.com, asks people to sign up for a program, sign extensive terms and agreement and enter the last six digits of their Social Security number which is highly unusual. 

National regulators and local Columbia banks have concerns about whether that site poses further risk to customers and do not necessarily recommend that people use the site because the terms of service you must sign might limit your legal rights.

Shon Aguero, the executive vice president of retail and small business banking at Landmark Bank in Columbia, said, “You have to read the fine print and make the decision for yourself.” 

Within the fine print of the terms of service, there are lines of an arbitration clause that prohibit people from joining a class action lawsuit against Equifax. The federal government will enact a law on September 18 barring companies from writing arbitration clauses. Equifax’s terms and conditions were written well before that date.

Suzie Naeger, the vice president of relationship banking at Central Bank of Boone County, explained there a few precautions people can take but these will not protect you from any hacks that have already occurred like the Equifax hack.

“The best thing that anyone can do is to continue to be vigilant in watching their accounts and their financial statements because you know your financial activity better than anyone else,” Naeger said. “So look at it on a regular basis. Keep a close eye on it. And then when you see something that is a discrepancy definitely report it right away so it can be addressed and be fixed.”

Aguero also said people should request a credit report from annualcreditreport.com and monitor the activity on their credit card accounts to look for unusual activity.

Equifax said individual’s information was accessed between mid-May and July of this year. The credit bureau found out about the hack on July 29 but waited until Thursday to announce the breach. 

Equifax executives sold their shares of their company before the breach was announced. Their shares were worth almost $2 million. Equifax shares plunged 19.49 points (13.66%) on the New York Stock Exchange Friday signaling distrust from consumers and Wall Street traders. 

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