If there’s any good news in all of this, it’s that the fake site was created by software engineer Nick Sweeting in an effort to educate consumers and others about phishing sites rather than to steal information. Sweeting’s site has since been blocked as a phishing site, but if you manage to reach past the block, you’ll see that it’s been taken down. Apparently, he’s made his point.
Meanwhile, Equifax has been thrashing about, trying to find some way to manage its response. One of those ways has been to offer free credit monitoring for those foolish enough to trust Equifax. Another has been to stop charging for credit security freezes.
But those free security freezes are only good for 30 days. After that, if you want to place a freeze on your credit with Equifax, it’ll cost you ten dollars. But then, Equifax tried to charge the same ten dollars for a credit freeze right after the breach was revealed. Comedian Stephen Colbert explained how this works in his show on Sept. 21. “They made you pay them to protect you from them,” he said. “That’s not a credit rating agency. That’s the Mafia!”
Except, of course, the Mafia has far better security than Equifax has ever had.
Meanwhile, the ripples from the Equifax catastrophe continue to spread. People everywhere will need to place a credit freeze on their account with each of the credit bureaus. Even if you checked with the Equifax site and found that your credit wasn’t compromised, you still need to put a freeze on the account, because otherwise you’re depending on Equifax to know what they’re doing.
Credit for consumers will start to dry up. Companies that send out those credit offers by mail or email won’t be able to see a credit report, so maybe they’ll stop sending out those offers. That might be a good thing. But it will also complicate, ad hoc credit transactions, such as when you decide on the spur of the moment to buy that 85-inch 4K television because it won’t happen without planning and releasing the security freeze.
Likewise you may find hiring delayed because access to applicants' credit records has been frozen. Your employees may find it hard to get housing because they can’t rent an apartment with frozen credit and you may find other parts of your business impacted, depending on how your company depends on the credit market.
Equifax, for its part, has lost the public's confidence. While it’s unlikely that anyone at Equifax will suffer any consequences beyond job loss, it’s going to be facing a level of suspicion as consumers become more reluctant to trust the company with anything of importance.