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Nevada launches its own Equifax probe after massive data breach

FILE - This July 21, 2012, file photo shows Equifax Inc., offices in Atlanta. On Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, Equifax said it has made changes to address customer complaints since it disclosed a week earlier that it exposed vital data on about 143 million Americans. Equifax has come under fire from members of Congress, state attorneys general, and people who are getting conflicting answers about whether their information was stolen. Equifax is trying again to clarify language about people’s right to sue, and said Monday it has made changes to address customer complaints. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart, File)

At Tiabi Coffee and Waffles, owner Tiffany Stiles knows a thing or two about a data breach.

“I mean, I personally have had my identity stolen at least seven times in the past five years,” Stiles told me as she was whipping up a waffle for a customer.

So, who better to ask about the news Equifax blew it, big time.

“It's pretty alarming, I'd say, to know that your information is just out there,” she added.

Since the news broke that hackers got into Equifax databases and stole the information of 143 million Americans, there has been outrage and disgust.

RELATED LINK | Equifax breach puts millions in the U.S. at risk

Now Nevada is taking action. Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt said Tuesday he's launching a probe, which will most likely dovetail into a broader multi-state investigation into what happened.

“We will get into this investigation and have some idea of how many Nevadans were affected and what kind of data has been breached,” Laxalt told me by phone from Carson City.

Nevada’s Financial Institutions Division, which oversees banks and other financial businesses, advised those companies Tuesday to make sure their information systems were secure.

In the Equifax breach, hackers got the holy grail of identity theft: names, Social Security numbers, birthdays, addresses, driver’s license numbers and more than 200,000 credit cards.

So, what do you do? I asked Nevada's consumer advocate.

“If you don't do anything but just do one thing, place a 90-day fraud alert on your file,” says Ernest Figueroa.

RELATED LINK | Credit monitor Equifax: Security breach exposed social security numbers of 143M Americans

It tips you off to fraud. Place it at one agency, and the other two also get it.

Experts also say consider paying for an identity theft monitoring service, set up fraud alerts on your credit cards and think about freezing your credit.

On its website, Equifax is offering one-year free credit monitoring. And it now says if you do that, consumers will not surrender their rights to sue.

U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., says it's time for a credit agency crackdown.

“And I'm a co-sponsor of a bill to do just that: tighten up the regulations, promote more protection for individuals,” Titus says. In the wake of this latest breach, her office is sponsoring a consumer credit protection workshop Oct. 6 at Las Vegas City Hall.

There are call in Congress for action. Nevada Senators Dean Heller, a Republican, and Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat, joined a bi-partisan group in the Senate on Tuesday calling for a federal Equifax investigation.

In the meantime, consumers are stuck in the middle.

“I just feel that, I mean, if you can hack into something as big as Equifax, then none of us are protected from anything,” says UNLV student Travis Jones.

And that's the bottom line: We are now all vulnerable. The information stolen from Equifax – our Social Security numbers and birthdates – stays with us forever.

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