DRI’s Al Berman on Equifax Breach ‘Ineptitude’
The facts: Equifax, a consumer credit reporting agency that collects and aggregates information on over 800 million individual consumers and more than 88 million businesses worldwide, was breached which may involve up to 143 million customer accounts. Additionally, credit card numbers for about 209,000 people were exposed, as was “personal identifying information” on roughly 182,000 customers involved in credit report disputes. While this is not the largest data breach (Yahoo had 500 million accounts hacked last year), it certainly is one that demonstrates how vulnerable customers are to ineptitude and greed.
The breach that took place in late July last was not reported until September. Could the delay have been caused by taking prudent measures to ensure a thorough investigation and that there were no other issues before going public? Maybe it was just a coincidence that high-level executives sold off almost $2 million of the company’s stocks after finding out about the breach in late July. This was weeks before the hack was announced and the stock fell over 15%. Based on the lawsuits filed (over 30 at this writing with many more to come), consumers are showing outrage toward this lack of fiduciary responsibility.
As an aside – the Equifax login and password in Argentina were both “admin.” Although there appears to be no connection between this and the hack, it shows that the standards employed and monitored by Equifax could not under any circumstances meet the due care standard.
So, what to do now? First the good news – go to the Federal Trade Commission site for information about whether or not your account information may have been compromised and how to acquire free monitoring and identity theft protection from Equifax. Now the caveat: if you avail yourself of the service you might be waiving their right to join a class action lawsuit against the company.