Equifax faces new lawsuits and is trying to make new gestures to customers in the wake of its disclosure last week that it exposed vital data like Social Security numbers of about 143 million Americans.
It's already come under fire from members of Congress, state attorneys general, and customers.
The company and its competitors, TransUnion and Experian, gauge how much of a risk people are for borrowing money. So they have some of the most sensitive information about Americans' financial lives -- all of it a trove for identity theft.
Here's the latest on what you need to know about the breach:
Several law firms have already announced lawsuits against Equifax, and are all seeking to become class-action cases. If a class-action lawsuit is approved, it would be one of the largest class-action suits, by number of affected customers, in history.
Some state authorities have announced their own lawsuits against Equifax, including Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.
Healey said Tuesday the Equifax breach "may be the most brazen failure to protect consumer data" her office has seen. Healey will claim in the lawsuit that Equifax violated state laws by not maintaining safeguards needed to protect people's data.
What Is Equifax Doing?
Equifax, under pressure over how it's handled the breach, now says it is allowing customers to freeze their credit reports for free for the next 30 days.
That comes after consumers calling the number Equifax set up complained of jammed phone lines and uninformed representatives, and initial responses from the website gave inconsistent responses. Many got no response, just a notice that they could return later to register for identity protection. Equifax says it's fixed many of the issues people ran into.
The site is equifaxsecurity2017.com and the number is 866-447-7559. Equifax also says it'll send a notice to all who had personally identifiable information stolen. Equifax already had said it would offering free credit monitoring for a year, which people can sign up for at the website. And it says it won't automatically re-enroll people afterward to charge them.
What Should I Do?
Considering the size and scope of the breach, it's probably better to assume you were part of it. And ultimately, consumers will probably have to look out for themselves. They should:
-- Closely monitor their own credit reports, which are available free once a year, and stagger them to see one every four months.
-- Stay vigilant, possibly for a long time. Scammers who get ahold of the data could use it at any time -- and with 143 million to choose from, they may be patient.
-- Consider freezing your credit reports. That stops thieves from opening new credit cards or loans in your name, but it also prevents you from opening new accounts. So if you want to apply for something, you need to lift the freeze a few days beforehand.
Who's Investigating This?
State and federal authorities, as well as politicians. The chairmen of at least two U.S. House committees say they want to hold hearings.
Like the Wells Fargo sales scandal, the Equifax breach is causing bipartisan outrage and concern, but there has been no talk of any new laws to further regulate the industry. Credit bureaus like Equifax are lightly regulated compared to other parts of the financial system.
Several state attorneys general have also said they would investigate, which could result in fines at the state level.
And the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the nation's watchdog for financial issues, says it has the authority to investigate the data breach, and fine and sanction Equifax if warranted.
Company executives are also under scrutiny, after it was found that three Equifax executives sold shares worth a combined $1.8 million just a few days after the company discovered the breach. Equifax said the three executives "had no knowledge that an intrusion had occurred at the time."
Equifax's stock has fallen more than 25 percent since Thursday. The company was scheduled to meet with investors publicly this week at a financial conference in New York, but pulled out and instead executives are giving one-on-one meetings with investors, a spokeswoman said.
© 2017 Associated Press under contract with NewsEdge/Acquire Media. All rights reserved.
Posted: 2017-09-19 @ 11:03am PT
I think Equifax's promises are bulls#@T. Equifax's system hasn't been able to process credit reports or credit freezes at all today, maybe that's why they're free. Their inability to protect our data, not data that we, 'the consumers' gave to them, but, that vendors gave to them, has caused so much damage and grief, that I think their license to do business should be suspended by the FTC until they can prove they can secure and manage the responsibility. What a debacle!
Posted: 2017-09-19 @ 6:58am PT
Will we ever find out exactly what personal information was compromised for each individual?
Answer: highly impossible.
Posted: 2017-09-19 @ 6:50am PT
What happens 5, 10 15 etc years from now with this data breach??
What happens after we die and our information is used for loans or credit? Will our spouses and siblings be responsible?
The victims need protection!
One result of this irresponsible and reckless company's behavior will be more oversight and regulations to the credit industry in general.
Posted: 2017-09-19 @ 6:37am PT
Typical big boy mentality. No one will get jail time for being incompetent. Not even GM executives who caused 100+ deaths did not serve prison terms. And the company never fully paid back their Tarp loans. GM made $22.6b since their bankruptcy and taxpayers lost $10.6b according to Money.CNN. Stockholders and company executives love this arrangement. GM car buyers pay the price.
Fannie and Freddie on the other hand borrowed $187b and the companies had to pay back all profits the companies made which resulted in nearly $270b in dividends to the Treasury depending on one source.
Better lawyers? Better deal? Better cash cow? GM a breed of its own?
Posted: 2017-09-19 @ 6:01am PT
The results are as follows:
Politicians will get additional air time.
There will be hand slaps and fines (which will be paid for by us victims in future costs associated with credit agencies).
The too big to fail attitude will prevail and any higher ups at Equifax will receive their retirement and all their contracted benefits. How can they be prosecuted or denied their outrageous compensation for being idiots?
Might consider placing an experienced and educated individual in the top security position, instead of a music major previous employed at the top spot.
Protect the victims during their life span and beyond the grave.
The lawyers involved will greedily prosper as usual.