I’m always coming up with reasons why being debt free is such a good idea. Our nation is obsessed with debt and all its shiny trappings so keeping focused on the facts is always important. This week I discovered a whole new reason why being debt free for life is such a wonderful idea. Your data simply isn’t safe in the hands of the credit bureaus.
After years of small data breaches here and there at all three bureaus, the mother of all breaches occurred earlier this year at Equifax. Nearly half, 143 million people in total, of American’s personal information including names, social security numbers and date of births was stolen. Americans weren’t the only ones involved however, the breach also included personal information on Canadian and UK citizens as well. Sounds pretty bad already doesn’t it; but believe me this case gets far worse.
First off Equifax is offering only a year of free ID theft protection. That isn’t even remotely long enough to actually be helpful. But if that wasn’t bad enough, you have to give up far more to get said free protection. You have to wave your right to sue them in a class action lawsuit. Who would ever agree to do this? Only an incompetent company who is absolutely pathetic at doing it’s job would try to stoop to such lows in order to protect its existence. Although, in my opinion, this isn’t their lowest of lows.
Just days after the breach was discovered, executives started dumping shares of the companies stock. 3 Equifax executives sold a total of $1.8 million worth of their stock holdings. John Gamble, Rodolfo Ploder and Joseph Loughran are the three men being questioned over their actions. The company claims they knew nothing about the hack when they dumped some of their shares. Do they really believe that anyone is buying that? How dumb do they think we are? If something bad happens at a company, the executives are the first to know. There is something defiantly rotten in Denmark.
The last thing to pile on this heap of incompetency is the fact that this was the third successful hack on Equifax in two years. Seriously, the first two weren’t warning enough that your databases were penetrable? Have you ever heard of a shot across the bow? So the inevitable happened and the proverbial third time was a charm. The grand daddy of them all occurred and it took the company six weeks to inform consumers about the hack. How is this company still in business? They might not be after they get sued into oblivion.
At the end of the day, my biggest concern with the major credit bureaus is that consumers have no control over their information. They can’t decide who can and can’t have their information. If you play the debt game at all they know about you, everything about you. The only way to keep your information out of their hands is to remain debt free for life. Otherwise you can’t stop their tentacles from obtaining all of your personal data even if you don’t want them to. I hope this incident leads to massive reforms. You’ll have millions of citizens and three governments pushing for it. It’s sad that something like this has to happen for change to finally be called for but hopefully we will finally get some change in the status quo.