By Aubrey Byron, News Editor

Equifax, one of the largest credit reporting agencies, reported that it suffered a large scale data breach from mid-May to July. The breach, according to the company, could affect as many as 143 million users, meaning nearly half of the U.S. population. Many University of Missouri–St. Louis students will be among the affected.

The hackers accessed extensive personal information of consumers, including names, social security numbers, birthdates, and addresses. People in other countries, like the United Kingdom and Canada, are affected as well.

To find out if your information has been compromised, consumers are encouraged to visit http://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/. To see if your information may have been exposed, click on the “Potential Impact” tab. (First, make sure you are on a secure computer and network.) Consumers may sign up for one year of free credit monitoring to help protect against hacks.

People who may have been affected should run a credit report and make sure no new accounts have been opened in their name. Consumers are also being encouraged to place a credit freeze or fraud alert on their credit. For more information on how to implement a credit freeze or fraud alert, contact a credit reporting company or your bank.