The credit monitoring service Equifax has just reminded us all how not to handle a crisis that affects millions of people.
You will recall that Equifax was the victim of a criminal data breach where hackers gained access to personal information on 143 million Americans – roughly half of the country.
This break included access to driver’s license information and social security numbers and other credit-related data. Hackers can use this to steal identities resulting in fraudulent purchases. This is a big deal, and if you have credit cards or loans, it is good idea to take some steps to freeze your credit to help block potential fraud moving forward.
But Equifax handled this breach poorly. First of all, the crime took place between May and July and Equifax learned about it on July 29. They didn’t go public with it for more than a month. More than a month that half of America was put at risk. Now their solution is a free monitoring service that they own but you have to provide a portion of your social security number to access the service.
Equifax should have notified Americans immediately and now their solution involves users giving more private information to the company that failed in their privacy protection efforts? This type of data breach is becoming more common and more impactful and until companies that supposedly specialize in preventing this actually improve, there will be a general mistrust by consumers.