Equifax data breach: Consumers knew but took little action

By | August 15, 2018

When the Equifax data breach impacting nearly 147 million people occurred just over a year ago most consumers took little to no action to protect themselves despite the risk of identity theft, U-M researchers found. In comprehensive interviews with 24 consumers, a team of researchers at the School of Information led by Yixin Zou and Florian Schaub found that few knew if they were impacted by the breach, although they had heard about it and understood the risks of identity theft, and even fewer took protective measures, such as freezing their credit reports.

“We expected that people might have issues with protecting themselves effectively but the degree of inaction after the data breach was definitely unexpected,” said Zou, a doctoral student at the school. “While a majority of our participants (19 out of 24) knew a big data breach had occurred at one of the big three credit bureaus and demonstrated detailed awareness of identity theft risks, more than half of them did not translate this awareness into any protective measures.”