What the Equifax Data Breach Means for Employers

What Happened

In the wake of the recently announced Equifax data breach that exposed the personal information of 143 million U.S. consumers, it pays for HR teams to review how you are protecting your employee data.

With our country having a population of 323 million it means that over 44% of U.S. residents just had their information exposed, as reported by NPR. As all the details have not yet been released, we can't speak to all the security aspects of this particular Equifax breach. We do, however, want to share some important tips for employees and employers on how to deal with the inevitable fallout.

Why Employers Should be Concerned

Equifax’s product portfolio includes services that house sensitive employee data on behalf of many large employers, which is often intermingled with their consumer credit reporting products and sold to debt collectors and other agencies. The extent of the breach is still unfolding and Equifax has not released exactly which of their data sets were affected, but large employers who use Equifax’s Workforce Solutions should be extremely vigilant. Bloomberg reports that Rodolfo Ploder, president of Workforce Solutions, sold stock worth almost $1.8 million in the days following the company's discovery of the hack.

What If Your Organization Uses Equifax’s Wage and Employment Verification Service, The Work Number?

If you manage HR or payroll operations for an employer that uses Equifax, you will likely start to receive questions from your employees, and perhaps your company’s leadership, on whether your data is safe. It will be critical to have direct answers to these questions. Here are a few tips:


Suggest to your employees that they follow the instructions on this web page that Equifax created in response to the breach to determine if they’ve been affected.


As Wired magazine infers in their article, employees must remain vigilant and keep watching all of their credit reports and financial statements, now and in the future.


Employees should contact Equifax to place a block on their employment record to avoid access without their consent.

Considering the sensitivity around employee data, it is imperative that your vendor maintains the highest security standards to ensure all data remains protected and out of the hands of unauthorized third parties. For more information about data security best practices and crucial steps to avoiding data breaches, try i2Verify.