[-$65,348] Data Breach Edition

I’m feeling exhausted and in need of a break. Not just a break from work, but I also need a financial break. Like over 140 million Americans, I’m simultaneously infuriated and apathetic about the Equifax data breach. I’m furious that Equifax (and likely their competitors as well from what I’ve been reading) can be so lax in their data security.

On the other hand, I’m also numb and jaded given that I’ve already been affected by multiple large breaches already (university, state gov’t, retailers, data companies). My social security number has been compromised so many times, it doesn’t know which way is up anymore. And this Equifax data breach is the worst of all.

These organizations and corporations never appear to face any consequences. Needless to say there is something wrong with this. Companies that can profit from their own lax protocol and data handling will never have any incentive to do any better. They are like bad student loan servicers that misplace paperwork and neglect proper record keeping, then profit even more from the resulting slew of borrower defaults.

What do you do when something that was supposed to help you, turns on you instead? Not only does it become almost useless, it can become a hindrance and an obstacle that you have to fight against.

This week I’ve done the following (after several failed attempts due to each of the websites being swamped):
1) signed up for free services for two of the big 3 agencies, which will allow me to “lock” my report and get free credit monitoring. I have locked my report for each of those agencies.

2) paid for a monthly service from one agency to monitor and protect against identity theft, allow me to “lock” my report, monitor any changes in my reports etc.  I have locked my report at this agency, as well.

3) put a freeze on my reports (free) at two smaller agencies (Innovis and ChexSystems).

When I have more time I will revisit the “lock vs. freeze” issue, as there are differences between the two. I will figure out a more permanent (and hopefully free) solution that I feel comfortable with. This breach will have lifelong consequences.

Next, it’s time to think about updating passwords, particularly to key accounts.

Next year, I will file taxes as early as possible to help prevent refund theft.

And yet, even taking this many steps may not protect us from everything that criminals could possibly do with our data.

What a PITA! We shouldn’t have to deal with this, let alone pay for it.  What are you guys doing about this?

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“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW Archives)

8 comments

  1. Steveark · September 16

    I wouldn’t rush to judge a company as being lax just because hackers breach their security. Virtually every computer network in the country is under attack on a daily basis and even our country’s military systems are sometimes breached by incredibly talented hackers. There has been an arms race between security engineers and black hat hackers for many years and so far it has been impossible to stop occasional criminal break-ins to data bases.

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    • From what I’ve seen and heard, all three of the major bureaus have not been as tight with their data security as they should have been over the years.
      Besides profiting from our personal data, these companies only have one job – to keep that data secure. The hackers didn’t get one or two pieces of personal data, they got several pieces of personal data for each person affected, practically all of it. I will absolutely judge Equifax. We’ll have to disagree on this.

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  2. Maria · September 16

    Omg!

    I live in a European country, I’m not familiar with this data breach.
    What could be the consequences for you, or will the steps you’ve taken to protect yourself prevent these from happening? Or is there some insecurity as to how well the steps you’ve taken will protect you?

    Please only answer if you want to, I understand if you don’t want to for whatever reason. In any case, take care of yourself as best you can, for whatever it’s worth I’m here somewhere across the pond rooting for you!

    Maria

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    • One of our 3 main credit agencies suffered a data breach in which all kinds of personal information (name, social security number, birth date, address, etc) was stolen. This means that millions of Americans (including me) are even more vulnerable to having our identities stolen. It’s more than I can explain here, but suffice it to say, it’s bad. I’ve taken actions already to do what I can, but it’s frustrating. Thanks, Maria.

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  3. Fiscally Fit Chica · September 16

    It stinks. I signed up for the monitoring on the Equifax site but I completely agree with you. It just makes me feel numb.

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  4. zeejaythorne · September 19

    It’s extra infuriating if you look up the history of Equifax. They used to have a different name when they were more directly in the business of Red-Lining.

    It seems almost pointless to try to protect ourselves from this nonsense. How many lists is my SSN on?

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