Chat request from alexandria

I have made no secret of my disdain for the practice of companies offering credit monitoring in the wake of a data breach — especially in cases where the breach only involves credit card accounts, since credit monitoring services typically only look for new account fraud and do little or nothing to prevent fraud on existing consumer credit accounts.

Credit monitoring services rarely prevent identity thieves from stealing your identity.

In the early hours after the breach announcement, the site was being flagged by various browsers as a phishing threat.

In some cases, people visiting the site were told they were not affected, only to find they received a different answer when they checked the site with the same information on their mobile phones. But most large companies that can afford to do so hire outside public relations or disaster response firms to walk them through the safest ways to notify affected consumers.

I have repeatedly urged readers to consider putting a security freeze on their accounts in lieu of or in addition to accepting these free credit monitoring offers, noting that credit monitoring services don’t protect you against identity theft (the most you can hope for is they alert you when ID thieves do steal your identity), while security freezes can prevent thieves from taking out new lines of credit in your name.

A law firm in New York has already announced it is investigating potential insider trading claims against Equifax.

Yesterday’s story here pointed out the gross conflict of interest in Equifax’s consumer remedy for this breach: Offering a year’s worth of free credit monitoring services to all Americans via its own in-house credit monitoring service.

And as I noted in yesterday’s story, the credit bureaus have shown themselves time and again to be terribly unreliable stewards of sensitive consumer data: This time, the intruders were able to get in because Equifax apparently fell behind in patching its Internet-facing Web applications.

In May, Krebs On Security reported that fraudsters exploited lax security at Equifax’s TALX payroll division, which provides online payroll, HR and tax services.

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Several readers have written in to point out some legalese in the terms of service the Equifax requires all users to acknowledge before signing up for the service seems to include legal verbiage suggesting that those who do sign up for the free service will waive their rights to participate in future class action lawsuits against the company.

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