The US isn’t just being rocked by disastrous hurricanes, it also beset by what is probably the biggest and most disturbing hacking incident in its history. How big? Nearly half of the country’s entire population has had their private information stolen from under Equifax’s nose. At that scale, it’s not surprising that lawsuits are being thrown at it like a Game of Thrones battle scene. But it seems that not only is Equifax pointing the finger at possibly unrelated parties, it might also be prepping to make a profit out of its own “cybersecurity incident”.
Equifax at least owns up to the fact that around 143 million consumers in the US were affected by this massive hacking incident. It also admits that sensitive information, including social security numbers, have been pilfered. It insists, however, that there is evidence of unauthorized access to its “core consumer or commercial credit reporting databases.”
It is offering free identity theft protection and credit file monitoring for those affected by the incident. It’s not a generous offer but one that should actually be demanded of the company. Except there might be more to this act of reparation.
Equifax is naturally now facing a multitude of lawsuits, not to mention an inevitable congressional investigation. One such lawsuit practically accuses Equifax of using this free credit monitoring to pitch its TrustedID product. What better way to advertise a more expensive service than by having people try it out for free. That free monitoring does have strings attached. One very large string is that you are barred from suing Equifax by using its service to simply check whether you’re eligible for that free Trusted Premiere offer.
And there are dozens of lawsuits being hurled at Equifax, which will probably be collated into fewer but bigger cases. There is now even a chatbot that will help fill up the forms you’ll need to file your own lawsuit against Equifax. And, perhaps the ultimate irony of all, it is asking you to give your social security number to a company who failed to protect it in the first place.