Equifax Is Not Your Friend: Should Everyone Freeze Their Account?

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk.com,

The Equifax security breach scandal keeps growing and growing. Their handling of the data breach that affected as many as 143 million accounts has been horrendous.

Executives dumped their shares before reporting the stolen data. Following the breach, their website did not function properly, people got signed up for programs they did not want or need, and customer service has been dismal all around.

Equifax is Not Your Friend

InTheseTimes reports The Equifax Hacking Scandal Is a Reminder That Credit-Reporting Agencies Are Not Our Friends.

Last week, Equifax—one of the country’s three major credit-reporting agencies alongside Experian and Transunion—revealed that its security apparatus had been breached. “Hackers” obtained private financial information the company held on over 140 million Americans. This is the third major security breach Equifax has suffered in the past two years, and it is by far the worst. Cybersecurity experts call it a 10 out of 10 on the catastrophe scale—with the negative consequences potentially lasting for decades.

 

Equifax became aware of the hacks on July 29 and the company’s top brass took immediate action. But rather than moving to alert the public that their information could be compromised, on August 1 and 2, three leading executives—including the company’s chief financial officer (CFO) John Gamble—sold nearly $2 million worth of shares in the company. Traders also noticed a sudden—and suspicious—selling of Equifax stock options.

 

Gamble has been with the company since 2014 and has only once sold shares prior to last month’s sale.

 

Equifax hired a customer-service agency to assist with the volume of calls they’d be receiving. Yet the company didn’t inform the agency of whom was likely affected by the breach, so when people started calling in, the outsourced contact centers were unable to provide useful information.

 

The company also offered a one-year free trial with TrustedID—an identity protection company acquired by Equifax in 2013. With TrustedID’s credit-monitoring services, those who signed up would be able to definitively tell if their financial data was exposed through the breach.

 

However, the service appeared to come with a catch. Equifax’s Terms of Use spelled out that by signing up, customers would waive the right to participate in a class-action lawsuit. After a social-media backlash, Equifax clarified that the “arbitration clause and class action waiver included in the Equifax and TrustedID premier terms of use does not apply to this cybersecurity incident.”

 

The scope of information obtained by the Equifax hackers likely won’t be known for many years. As of last week, the company’s security has changed from asking for the last four digits of customers’ social security number to asking for the last six, so it’s safe to assume that if you were included in the breach, the last four digits of your social security number are likely out there.

 

If there’s anything positive to be taken away from Equifax’s security blunder, it’s that it reminds us that in a shadowy surveillance economy, we aren’t the employee or the consumer, but the product. What’s to be done about this is up for debate—but not one we’re allowed to have any say in.

Many Reasons to Freeze Your Account

MarketWatch says there are many reasons why you should freeze your credit report today. Why? Because You risk financial chaos by doing nothing.

If you’re hoping to just ride out the Equifax breach scandal and do nothing about it, you might not have a problem next week or next month. Or even next year.

 

Since the credit reporting company Equifax EFX, -3.81% announced last Thursday it had been affected by a data breach earlier in the summer that potentially affected 143 million U.S. adults, consumers have had many questions about how to protect themselves. Some have not even been able to freeze their credit reports as security experts have suggested because Equifax and the other two credit bureaus TransUnion and Experian overloaded with calls and credit-freezing requests they were unable to handle.

 

If you don’t take any steps? This is what could happen:

 

Financial identity theft

 

Because the Equifax credit reports contained so much personal information, including Social Security numbers and financial account information, fraudsters could use the report for reasons including new account fraud, medical identity theft — using insurance information to have a medical procedure, which can create confusion on the true insured person’s medical file for years — or tax fraud, Levin said.

 

Fraud affected some 15.4 million consumers in 2016, or roughly 6.15% of all consumers, up 16% from 5.3% of consumers in 2015, according to Javelin, a security firm, in a report sponsored by security company LifeLock (which obviously has vested interest in the findings.) The mean amount it cost per fraud victim was $1,038, according to Javelin.

 

Incidents of new account fraud have risen especially quickly, Javelin found, because so much personal information has been compromised in data breaches over time. New account fraud also takes the longest to resolve, said Al Pascual, a senior vice president and research director at the security firm Javelin. “If you don’t take steps to actively protect your identity, you’re basically playing Russian roulette,” Pascual said.

 

Your data may have already been breached

 

At an absolute minimum, consumers should check their financial accounts, credit reports and credit score frequently, Nazari of Credit Sesame said. But putting a freeze or fraud alert on an account is strongly recommended, he said. Fraud alerts won’t prevent fraud from happening, but can let a consumer know when something looks suspicious, and they can follow up with the appropriate financial institution after.

Freeze Your Account

Unless you intend to open up new credit cards, get a car loan, or home equity loan, etc, there is every reason to freeze your account and be done with it.

Everyone else should monitor their accounts closely.

Meanwhile, there are some major insider trading violations by Equifax employees that need to be dealt with (not that I am a believer in insider trading laws, but rather because I am sick of financial CEOs getting off scoff free for all of their actions).

Comments

Luc X. Ifer toady Mon, 09/18/2017 - 12:09 Permalink

Credit rating is cattle management system working for the cattle farmers/owners not for the cattle, wake up for the fuck's sake ppl ... to see the farm one has to leave it, so pack & leave if u wanna be free, leave the credit system and find more meaningful ways to live trully connected and immersed with one's community

In reply to by toady

macholatte Boris Alatovkrap Mon, 09/18/2017 - 10:20 Permalink

 I didn’t have an account with Equifax, but it had one with me.Freeze my account?  What account?Now that’s some real good bullshit advice because at the end of the day, there is NOTHING we sheeple can do about it. We are merely chum in the water.Perhaps the only thing to do is to close every account you ever had and open a new one. How many hours will that take? 

In reply to by Boris Alatovkrap

macholatte macholatte Mon, 09/18/2017 - 10:43 Permalink

 Equifax data breach: How to freeze your credithttps://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/09/13/how-freeze-your-credit-…How do you determine if you were exposed in the Equifax breach?Visit Equifax’s website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, and click on the tab that says "Potential Impact." You'll be asked to enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number. You'll either get a message that says "we believe that your personal information was not impacted by this incident" or "we believe that your personal information may have been impacted by this incident."

In reply to by macholatte

Panic Mode Mon, 09/18/2017 - 08:41 Permalink

The company conducts in this trouble time is basically saying: "Fuck you all. I can do what I like. Bite me".Equifax, why the fuck you hire any executives with the surname, Gamble?? That's exactly what they do with your company shares.

a Smudge by an… Panic Mode Mon, 09/18/2017 - 10:00 Permalink

Speaking of gamble....I really can't imagine how this could have happened if they either 1. lost accountability on their encryption keys or 2. never encrypted the data in the first place.

The first scenario would exist on any common cloud storage network. The second would exist with their volume of sheer incompetence. Neither are forgivable mistakes.

How nice that everybody who buys, rents or borrows anything of value is forced to deal with these assholes.

In reply to by Panic Mode

Twaddlefree kellys_eye Mon, 09/18/2017 - 12:55 Permalink

First time I've seen anyone recognize what the real issue is. Time for banks and retailers to return to issuing their own credit cards (instead of through third party companies) and performing their own due diligence (instead of through third party companies), and making their own decisions about granting, extending, renewing credit (instead of using the grades provided by third party companies and rating agencies). All WITH the customers' express written permission to do whatever checks they can manage to do without a central bureacracy for ONLY the particular organization offering the credit and withOUT any permission to share that information with anyone or anything else. I wouldn't even object to paying a fee when applying for credit (which I have none of...nothing) if it were guaranteed that none of my personal information would appear anywhere but with the company/bank I'm asking for credit from. One Nation Under Surveillance

In reply to by kellys_eye

Mr.BlingBling buzzsaw99 Mon, 09/18/2017 - 10:05 Permalink

Good news, Buzz!  Equifax WILL be sued back to the stone age, and we'll all be part of the class-action suit!!We'll each get about $3.95, and the attorneys will get enough for a new Gulfstream.  And not one of those shitty little Gulfstreams either; a good one in which such Masters of the Universe can stand upright while they wing their way to Bali!

In reply to by buzzsaw99

Mr.BlingBling koan Mon, 09/18/2017 - 10:36 Permalink

Yep, with a shower.  Pedosta likes 'em in showers because it leaves no marks.  (There's a blurred video out there of someone that sounds like him torturing a kid in a shower.  The audio is frankly horrifying, and someone has posted voiceprint comparisons of Pedosta and the voice in the video.  Seems like Pedosta to me, but what do I know.)https://www.reddit.com/r/conspiracy/comments/5ud32l/did_the_video_with_… 

In reply to by koan

Radioactive Ideas Mon, 09/18/2017 - 08:40 Permalink

The share selling combined with the dealys in reporting as well as the smugness of handling and this will be used in Business Schools across the country as a case study in what not to do when you screw most of your customers.

wintermute Mon, 09/18/2017 - 08:41 Permalink

I never opened an "account" with this shitbag parasite company and don't know if it has one for me. However, it may because its whole business model is secretly harvesting financial data from the public and exploiting it.

FreeNewEnergy Mon, 09/18/2017 - 08:42 Permalink

Freeze my account with Equifax? How about closing it and demainding that they destroy all records of it?My trust in them and the many banks and CC compaines (and the various levels of interloping governments) is ZERO.If my accounts are compromised, it's their problem, not mine. Blowing up the entire apparatus seems like a solid solution to the insanity of the credit reporting monopoly that has existed for more than 30 years.Being held captive to a credit score produced by morons should have never happened and hopefully will end soon.

Everybodys All… Mon, 09/18/2017 - 08:53 Permalink

First of all Shedlock is an Obama supporting asshole so take what he says about anything under that context. The four insider people who sold shares would not lead anyone to believe they knew what was going on with the exception of possibly the CFO. The total number of shares sold was minuscule again to their shares held so at this time I just don't see the connection to knowledge of the breach. In my opinion, you would expect that if they knew they would have sold much much more of their holdings. I know this is not the conventional thinking at this time on the Equifax stock sales but I believe nothing was inappropriate.On the other hand holding on to knowledge of the breach and not making that breach known to the public in a timely manner is a big problem. I dont know what time frame is appropriate but I do beleive Equifax waited way to long to make this breach known to the public.