Customers potentially affected by the Equifax data breach will see this message on the credit agency's website. (Source: WECT)
SOUTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA (WECT) -
Cybersecurity experts are warning the approximately 143 million Americans affected by the Equifax data breach about scammers trying to take advantage.
Dr. Lucas Layman, a computer science professor at UNCW, says scammers will contact people through phone calls, emails and/or texts claiming they work for Equifax. Layman says real Equifax employees won't call you directly.
"These scammers always come at you with a sense of urgency," Layman said. "They will say, 'You need to act now or you need to protect your information now.'"
Layman teaches a variety of computer science classes at UNCW and says occasionally his students will ask what they can do to protect themselves while officials sort out the data breach.
"Your data is already gone and it's out there on the black market and somebody is going to buy it," Layman said. "What you need to do now, and this is what I tell the students, you need to take the steps now to protect yourself from future fraudulent activity."
To find out if you are affected by the Equifax data breach, click here.
Experts say if the site says you may be affected, you should first freeze your credit. The Better Business Bureau of Coastal Carolina urges people to monitor tax returns, medical bills and more.
"You've got to be your own sheriff on this one," BBB President and COO John D'Ambrosio said. "The information these folks got could ruin you if you aren't real careful."
If someone calls you claiming to work for Equifax, hang up. D'Ambrosio said it's not worth staying on the line and putting yourself at risk of becoming the next victim at the hands of a scammer.
"Those are the folks who want to confirm your social security number, your date of birth, those sort of things," D'Ambrosio said. "If it doesn't smell right, it probably isn't right."