R.I. joins multistate investigation into Equifax breach; consumers urged to review reports

R.I. joins multistate investigation into Equifax breach; consumers urged to review reports


Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin is among a growing list of state attorneys general across the country coming together to investigate the cause and impact of the Equifax data breach, which experts have said could leave millions of Americans including New Englanders at risk of identify theft for years to come.

Rhode Island joined in the multi-state investigation Wednesday, Kilmartin said in a press release, and the group is taking aim at determining how the breach took place, what the company is doing to assist and protect consumers, and the steps necessary to ensure better protections for consumers in the future.

“Since the Equifax breach was announced late last week, we have received countless calls and emails from consumers who are rightfully angry and frustrated over the lack of information and clarity from the company on how this happened, protections that are being offered, and what rights consumers may have against the company,” Kilmartin said.

The credit monitoring giant Equifax said Thursday the system breach may have exposed the Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver’s license numbers and phone numbers of 143 million consumers.

“While we continue to seek answers from Equifax, and will use all tools available to do so, we want to provide consumers a place where they can go to get the latest information available on the breach,” Kilmartin said.

Kilmartin said The Rhode Island Attorney General’s office is keeping its website, riag.ri.gov, up to date with information, as well as offering a variety of tips to consumers on ways to avoid falling victim to identity theft. Kilmartin also said his office is working in partnership with other attorneys general and federal agencies to share information on how consumers in different states are being affected in an effort to share that information with Rhode Island consumers.

“We encourage you to let us know if this breach has resulted in attempts by a hacker to use your compromised information to gain access to your financial information or accounts, including, not but limited to your bank account, credit cards, and retirement or investment accounts,” Kilmartin said. “Sharing this information with our office will allow us to warn others to be on the lookout for similar attempts.”

Those concerned they may already have fallen victim, or those seeking additional information may contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit at 401-274-4400 or by email at consumers@riag.ri.gov. To learn more about the Equifax data breach, visit http://www.riag.ri.gov/homeboxes/Consumer.php.

— Jason Vallee

Protect yourself from identity theft

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin is reminding consumers to take measures outside of the Equifax process to better protect from being victimized:

All consumers should be very suspect of emails from government agencies or their financial institutions looking to confirm specific personal information or financial account information.

Do NOT trust any unsolicited email, text, or phone call that claims to be from a government agency or financial institution.

Do NOT click on a link in any email or text that claims to be from a government agency or financial institution.

Do NOT provide personal information over the telephone to someone who contacts you that claims to be from a government agency or a financial institution.

Always contact your financial institution directly – by phone - to report suspicious activity on your accounts or to confirm whether they sent you a notification.

Check ALL your financial accounts DAILY for suspicious activity and report it immediately to your financial institution.

Based on information out of Alabama where a hacker used a person’s compromised information in an attempt to trick a retirement broker into gaining access to a client’s account, we strongly advise that you contact your investment or retirement manager to understand what protocols and safety measures are in place to ensure someone cannot pose as you to gain access to your accounts.

Source: Office of the Rhode Island Attorney General

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