Identity theft has become a way of life. In its latest mass resurgence, Equifax admitted that “unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July 2017” ("Equifax Announces Cybersecurity Incident," 2017) At this point, entities that "experience" these breaches are not victims, but rather part of the problem. Proper safeguards must be in place in order to conduct business.
Not only is the Equifax breach disturbing because of the sheer volume, “impacting approximately 143 million U.S. consumers,” but Equifax is a credit bureau ("Equifax Announces Cybersecurity Incident," 2017). Consumers cannot win. What power does a credit bureau wield? “While credit bureaus don't actually make lending decisions, they are very powerful institutions in finance and the information contained in their individual reports can have a substantial impact on an individual's financial future” ("Credit Bureau," n.d.) So, here we have an institution who is collecting and reporting information on us - impacting some of the biggest events in our life (at least financial) - yet, as demonstrated by this latest instance, it is 100% inept.
This breach was only a matter of time as Equifax is not the only credit bureau who has had data it was entrusted to protect breached. In 2015, Experian announced that one of its business units had been breached.
Who is responsible for monitoring credit bureaus? In 2012, “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) adopted a rule ... to begin supervising larger consumer reporting agencies, which include what are popularly called credit bureaus or credit reporting companies. This is the first time these companies will be supervised at the federal level" ("CFPB to Supervise," 2012). I am curious what this supervisory role has entailed. Clearly, protecting consumers has not been a responsibility taken seriously.
CFPB to Supervise Credit Reporting. (2012, July 16). Retrieved from https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/newsroom/consumer-financial-protection-bureau-to-superivse-credit-reporting/
Credit Bureau.(n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/creditbureau.asp
Equifax Announces Cybersecurity Incident Involving Consumer Information. (2017, September 7). Retrieved from https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.
photo by Jeremy Thompson