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California Weighs Options For Addressing Equifax Breach

Mike Stewart / AP / File

This July 21, 2012, file photo shows Equifax Inc., offices in Atlanta.

Mike Stewart / AP / File

California lawmakers are considering what state actions should follow a massive breach of sensitive data at the credit agency Equifax.

At a hearing Tuesday in Southern California, they heard testimony from cyber security experts, attorneys, consumer advocates and state agencies.

Courtney Jensen of the California Credit Union League says that, while lawmakers weigh their response, consumers should take their own precautions. That includes expecting emails and calls from “phishers” posing as credit agencies.

"We’re going to see a lot of those now that all of those emails are out there," Jensen says. "Make sure you’re calling your financial institution. Don’t send any personal information over emails. Frequently review your account activity and immediately report fraudulent transactions. Place a fraud alert with credit bureaus."

Jensen also recommends enrolling in transaction monitoring and placing a security freeze on credit reports.

Jan Owen of the state Department of Business Oversight testified her agency could declare the company an unsafe vendor and tell financial institutions in California to stop using Equifax.

"It’s nothing we take lightly, of course, but if you look at this, that’s the business, right?" Owen says. "So if one state says to one bank that, okay, quit using Equifax, I guarantee you other states will as well. And then it becomes you’ve hit them in the pocket book."

For more than two months, a vulnerability allowed hackers to obtain personal information collected by Equifax from 140 million people.

Ben Bradford

State Government Reporter

As the State Government Reporter, Ben covers California politics, policy and the interaction between the two. He previously reported on local and state politics, business, energy, and environment for WFAE in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Read Full Bio 

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