ATLANTA (CBS/AP) — Credit monitoring company Equifax says a breach exposed social security numbers and other data from about 143 million Americans.

In response, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is launching investigation into the data breach and how it affected people in the Commonwealth.

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The Atlanta-based company said Thursday that “criminals” exploited a U.S. website application to access files between mid-May and July of this year.

It said consumers’ names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some cases, driver’s license numbers were exposed. Credit card numbers for about 209,000 U.S. consumers were also accessed.

Equifax data breach extent. (WBZ-TV)

Somerville consumer advocate Edgar Dworsky says the hackers have a purpose behind their action.

“They’re really trying to steal your identity, your good credit,” Dworsky said.

He created and his purpose is to help people protect their credit. With all of the information Equifax stored, the hackers can potentially use the information to get credit using your name.

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“They’re crooks. They want to be able to buy merchandise and send the bill to you,” Dworsky said.

Dworsky says to go to the Equifax web site and find out if you’re affected. But you still have to give your name and the last six digits of your Social Security Number to find out. That may make some consumers uneasy–giving more information to the people who lost the information in the first place.

The company is offering free credit protection for a year, but to get that, you have to agree to not be a part of a class action lawsuit against the company.

The company said hackers also accessed some “limited personal information” from British and Canadian residents.

Equifax said it doesn’t believe that any consumers from other countries were affected.

To find out if you are potentially impacted, please go to

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(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)