BIDDEFORD, Maine — A CBS 13 investigation has prompted a state-level probe into one of the three major credit reporting bureaus. Your personal and private information may be caught in the middle, as we discovered what appears to be a data breach involving an agency responsible for keeping track of all your financial information.
But this incident, involving the credit rating agency Equifax, is very different. It looks like they just gave the information away. A woman right here in Maine got hundreds of credit reports in the mail, all addressed to her, but belonging to other people all over the country.
“You have to see it to believe it,” Katie Manning said.
Manning had a deluge of mail waiting for her Monday night when she got home from work. She said she counted more than 300 pieces of mail, all from the credit reporting company Equifax. It’s one of three credit bureaus responsible for keeping track of all your personal and private information.
“I checked my credit report the other day online with Equifax and the next thing I know I have 300 pieces of mail sitting in my mail box,” Manning explained.
She was waiting for her credit report to arrive, but instead, she got other people’s credit reports.
Now names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, current and previous addresses, bank and loan account numbers are all stacked up on a kitchen table in Biddeford.
“I’m not supposed to have this information, this is unbelievable, someone has messed up,” Manning said.
So CBS 13 called Equifax with some tough questions hoping for some answers.
“This is a high priority. Obviously this is a serious situation. I’m going to get our security and forensics teams involved,” Equifax Vice President of Corporate Communications Tim Klein said on the phone. Equifax says it doesn’t yet know if this is a widespread problem or how it happened.
We also called some of the victims in this stack to let them know.
From Connecticut to New Jersey, all the way down to Florida, victims confirmed all of the information is accurate, but it’s supposed to be private.
“They could do some pretty considerable damage. On the financial side there’s damage that would involve establishing setting up a new account, getting a loan in someone’s name. All of those require Social Security numbers,” Jane Carpenter said.
Carpenter is an identity theft expert who worked in the attorney general’s office and founded Maine Identity Services. She says someone could also steal tax refunds and medical information with what’s in these stacks.
We also worked with Manning to report this to the Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection. The agency picked up all those credit reports Wednesday afternoon and is launching a regulatory investigation.