Two weeks after the Equifax Inc. (NYSE: EFX) data breach was revealed, 61 million Americans checked their credit score or credit report,according to a new CreditCards.com report. However, about 71 million U.S. adults say they haven’t heard anything about the data leak, which came to light on Sept. 7 and impacts about 145.5 million U.S. consumers.
Half of younger millennials, those 18 to 26, were unaware the breach had occurred. Older millennials, who are between 27 and 36, were more aggressive in reviewing their credit in a timely fashion, with 33% of them checking their credit score in the first two weeks after Equifax’s disclosure.
Three in five adults have inspected their credit within the past year, and one in five have never done so. The remainder of the adults checked more than a year ago.
By ethnicity, 38% of Hispanics, 22% of African Americans and 16% of whites have never examined their credit. The same is true of 32% of those with no more than a high school education and 29% with annual household income less than $30,000.
Credit awareness increases as income and education rise: 89% of those with annual household income of $75,000 or more and 88% of college graduates have evaluated their credit, usually within the past year.
Atlanta-based Equifax first learned about “suspicious network traffic” on July 29. On Aug. 2, Equifax hired cybersecurity firm Mandiant. It took weeks until Equifax told its customers that much of their personal data was at great risk.
Among several steps consumers can take to try to minimize the damage caused by the Equifax leak is to place a freeze on their credit report. That might hit you in the pocketbook, however. Depending on which state you live in, that can range in cost from zero to $10, and a request to “unfreeze” or “thaw” the report may cost a similar amount.
Meanwhile, Equifax dealt with more bad news on Friday. The Internal Revenue Service said it has temporarily suspended a contract worth more than $7 million it recently awarded to Equifax following a security issue with the beleaguered credit reporting agency’s website on Thursday.
Shares of Equifax have fallen more than 22% to about $110.24 since the breach was revealed in September. The stock has rallied from the year’s trough of $92.98 reached on Sept. 15 when 85.5 million shares changed hands, more than 24 times the daily average.