b&b180 Equifax Equifiction Equif*ckry: What you can do to protect your credit after the Equifax Breach

Equifax is one of the three large credit reporting agencies, and in July they had a security breach in which the data of 145 million adult Americans was stolen (they notified the public on September 7th). There are no laws in place to prevent this, and so far no real consequences have been enacted against them. We talk about what could change, and what you can do to protect and monitor your own information, as well as how much of a real issue this continues to be.

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Music featured in this episode:
Security Breach by Nic Mercer
Flying (Falling with Style) by Security Culture
CREDIT SCORE from Fly N Any Weather 2 by Tre-Ez

Episode Highlights:

If you’ve ever taken out any debt or had your credit check in any way (credit card, student loan, auto loan) you have a record with Equifax. They have your previous addresses, your social security numbers, your drivers’ licenses in some situations, credit card numbers, your current address, your past address, all of the lines of credit you’ve ever had, any information you’ve ever sent them, tax liens, all of it.

Not even Equifax, but all of these companies who have all of this access to all of our information. They’ve been entrusted with it. How do we allow this to continue? And what does this mean, like should we all just get new social security numbers? Do we just need to start over again?

It’s sorta like the banks when they were just bailing them out, it’s like “Yeah I know this is all your fault but we don’t know how to go on without this.”

Identity theft is the #1 growing crime because it feels like it’s harmless: you don’t have to attack a person, you can take stuff digitally, there’s this whole black market for trading information on the internet.

They base how much your car insurance is on your credit score, more so than on your driving record.

Your credit score has become the gage of how responsible you are as a consumer, as a borrower, as a person. They call it the credit report for your life as an adult.

There’s a couple steps you can take in the short term. One is, you can check your credit…the other thing too is websites like Kredit Karma and Mint and the other credit monitoring services will email you if there’s been a change to your credit score, and that’s usually an indication of something is up.

The thing with this and with monitoring your credit is that it’s not proactive, it’s very much a reactive thing.

It’s really difficult to know what’s gonna happen for the average consumer. There’s big-picture stuff going on, and maybe Equifax needs to go, but that information is still out there.

The barriers to be a consumer are going down so much more every day.

145 million social security numbers are floating out there.

Unliked food, medicine, toys and other consumer good, there are no real criminal or civil laws that punish companies when they’re careless with consumer data. The laws haven’t caught up to that yet.

Critical, personal consumer data is controlled by these three companies.

They sell your information to banks, marketers, mortgage providers. That’s where they make their money. They’re a big business to business company. That is why a lot of consumers haven’t heard of them until now because they’re not consumer-facing. They don’t have any incentive to market to you.

You can’t boycott Equifax. You can’t even, as a consumer, get away from this if you want to retain any semblance of buying power, your financial life.

The fact that we don’t know what the consequences should be for such a huge, huge, huge breach is crazy.

We never gave Equifax permission to collect [our information].

The fact that your mortgage rate hinges on these credit reports and these credit scores and they are allowed to be this irresponsible with our data also really doesn’t make any sense, and it’s something that we never questioned until now.

The corporate death penalty is a rare but vital procedure called judicial dissolution.

The scariest thing is that this is the first time that many Americans have heard of Equifax.

We have to be the ones who are protecting our own financial information.