(The Knife Media) It may not be possible to guarantee that your information is completely protected, but there are measures you can take to lessen the possibility of theft, and to prevent any potential theft from negatively affecting your financial standing.
According to studies conducted by the Pew Research center, about 64 percent of U.S. residents have experienced a “major” data breach. About 49 percent felt their data was less secure at the time of the January 2017 survey than it had been five years prior.
Yet as noted in our analysis Equifax and data privacy: Are consumers powerless?, while consumers voice concerns about data privacy, some don’t take steps to protect themselves from theft:
Information on credit bureaus
Credit bureaus collect information such as a person’s bill payment and borrowing history in order to calculate a credit score. Credit scores are used by lenders, insurers and employers to assess how people handle financial responsibilities. For example, a bank may use your credit score to decide whether to give you a loan and what interest rate you will pay on it. Other information collected includes Social Security numbers, address history and birthdays.
Credit bureaus get their information from banks, credit card issuers and other creditors. They also collect public information such as court or property records.
There are three main credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, though there are other credit reporting companies, such as Payment Reporting Builds Credit (PRBC), Clarity Services Inc.and DataX.
For more information on the Equifax data breach, see our analysis.
Sources: The Federal Reserve; Equifax
Written by Julia Berry López
Edited by Jens Erik Gould
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Jens Erik Gould
Jens is a political, business and entertainment writer and editor who has reported from a dozen countries for media outlets including The New York Times, National Public Radio and Bloomberg News