GCC holds presentation to address Equifax data breach

Three million Massachusetts residents were affected by the data breach

Equifax Inc.
FILE - This July 21, 2012, file photo shows Equifax Inc., offices in Atlanta. Prospects are good for a public shaming, but it’s unlikely Congress will institute sweeping new regulations after hackers accessed the personal information of an estimated 143 million Americans in the Equifax data breach. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart, File)

GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)- Equifax ‘s massive data breach exposed half the U.S. population’s private information.

Attorney General Maura Healey filed a lawsuit against the credit-reporting agency for putting so many Massachusetts residents at risk.

“So many Americans were affected, three million in Massachusetts,” said John Canon, Information Security Officer at Greenfield Community College. “There’s 6.81 million people in Massachusetts, so half of the people were affected, including myself.”

GCC held this presentation Tuesday to address the Equifax data breach and to educate the community how to best protect personal information, like social security numbers and credit card accounts.

“I was very naive to think that because I’m a conscious credit user that i wouldn’t be bothered, they wouldn’t be bothered, so I’m here to get educated and to best protect myself,” said Patricia Wachter of Northampton.

The Northwestern District Attorney’s office outlined best practices to protect your personal information.

“We want to make sure that people consider putting a freeze on their accounts,” said Janice Garrett, Director of Consumer Protection Unit for the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office. “It doesn’t mean that you can’t use your accounts, you just can’t open new ones.”

Garrett suggests you apply for a free credit report online, which you can get three times a year.

Attorney General Healey is trying to pass a bill that would require companies to obtain consent before accessing credit reports.