Business, Buzz, cybersecurity, Equifax

Equifax apologizes by allowing customers to lock their credit for free

Image: JUSTIN LANE/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Equifax really, really doesn’t want you to hate them.

The company launched an apology tour for its massive data breach on Wednesday with a letter from the interim CEO, published in The Wall Street Journal, weeks after it revealed that a hack had exposed the personal information of 143 million United States consumers. 

As part of that apology, Equifax is offering its customers the ability to lock and unlock their credit for free and for life.

This credit-locking feature “will be reliable, safe and simple,” wrote interim CEO Paulino do Rego Barros Jr.

Big words from the head of a company that exposed the names, birthdates, credit card numbers, social security card numbers, and other data of a truly giant number of people, then couldn’t handle the flood of worried calls they got in the aftermath.

But hey, the new CEO professes to know all this. 

“We were hacked,” he wrote. “That’s the simple fact. But we compounded the problem with insufficient support for consumers. Our website did not function as it should have, and our call center couldn’t manage the volume of calls we received. Answers to key consumer questions were too often delayed, incomplete or both. We know it’s our job to earn back your trust.”

Customers can now also sign up for a free credit freeze until Jan. 31, an extension on the initial date. Equifax is also extending the ability to sign up for its credit monitoring ID defense product, called Trusted ID Premier, which has given many customers an additional headache when they’ve tried to sign up and have inexplicably been unable to do so. 

On Sept. 21, The Washington Post published a story about the difficulties Equifax customers have had signing up for the monitoring service. One such customer was a woman identified as “Sandra,” who wrote that she “followed the instructions diligently, and after enrolling online I also called them. I was told I would get an email instructing me how and when to ‘finalize my enrollment.'” As of Sept. 21, she and her husband were “still waiting.” Sandra didn’t say when she tried to sign up, but Equifax originally revealed the breach on Sept. 7. 

The interim CEO has vowed to rebuild trust between his company and its customers. To do that, it seems he’ll have to do even more than bolster Equifax’s cybersecurity. 

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