You’ve probably heard by now that on July 29th Equifax learned their systems were hacked from mid-May through July. Yes, Equifax, one of the country’s 3 main repositories of all consumer personal and credit information.
The cyber thieves acquired sensitive personal information on 143 million American consumers. That’s a whole lot of data on a whole lotta people. Not good.
The information obtained included not only names and social security numbers but also birth dates, addresses, and credit card numbers. This information can prove to be very harmful to the consumers and very lucrative to the hackers.
Ironically, Equifax, which should be one of the bastions of personal information security, was easily accessed via a simple website vulnerability.
Equifax had been hit last year for consumer’s W-2 and salary info, and their subsidiary, TALX, was hacked earlier this year for more payroll and consumer HR info. I guess they didn’t learn their lesson, or worse, they didn’t care.
To make things worse we find that 3 top executives at Equifax sold about $1.8 million in Equifax stock after the breach but before it was announced to the public. Equifax says they didn’t know about the breach. I have my doubts.
It is hard to believe that with Congress and CFPB are coming down hard on mortgage lenders for maintaining proper security controls on consumer non-public personal information (NPPI) and everyone and their mother so concerned with online security, one of the biggest collectors and storages of consumer NPPI is lax in their cyber security controls.
Maybe someone needs to get tougher on these 3 repositories, Equifax, Trans Union and Experian since they hold so much consumer NPPI.
Think of the effect these cyber-attacks will have on consumer credit, lenders and the economy. How might affect future loan approvals and home sales?
Using the data stolen from Equifax, identity thieves can impersonate people with lenders, creditors and service providers, who rely on personal identity information to make financial decisions regarding potential customers. Maybe, Equifax is not so reliable after all.
If you ever had your identity stolen, you know it can be a very trying and expensive process to get it straightened out. I know; been there, done that. You do not want to go through it. Plus, it’s eerie knowing that someone is walking around using your identity and credit information.
Lenders now need to be diligent in their credit, employment and income reviews of new applicants.
Unfortunately, you can’t be sure of who you’re dealing with, and you surely can’t trust Equifax to provide the right information.
Be very careful, my friends.