2. Why not make freezes and the lifting of those freezes free permanently for everyone?
3. Failing that, why not make freezes and thaws free permanently for everyone whose data was stolen in this instance or, for that matter, anytime in the future?
4. Why not pay Experian and TransUnion, the two other large consumer-credit reporting agencies, to freeze the credit files connected to every victim of the most recent Equifax breach? After all, that breach makes people vulnerable to thieves who apply for credit in victims’ names with lenders who check applicants’ credit histories only with Experian or TransUnion.
Equifax would not address that last one with me, but a reader named Kimberly Casey forwarded me an email exchange between her and Dann Adams, the president of Equifax’s global consumer solutions unit, where he apologized and said that a service to “lock” Equifax, Experian and TransUnion files simultaneously would be coming soon.
That might be helpful, given the trouble that so many of you have had getting any of the company’s websites or phone systems to work in recent days. (Please, keep trying. It’s worth the protection.) But let’s hope they give this new service away for free, for life, to all individuals who had their data stolen in this instance and that the lock will work identically to a freeze and not involve giving up the right to sue the companies.
I’ve asked Equifax repeatedly in recent days what phone number people should call to request a new PIN for thawing their freezes. On Sunday, Mr. Jefferies told me the company would stop issuing PINs based on the date the freeze was initiated and would instead issue new PINs to anyone who wanted to replace the old ones.
It is not clear, however, exactly how consumers can do this. Another reader today told me that a phone representative for the company said that people were going to have to cancel old freezes, request new ones, go unprotected for days and wait for new PINs to show up in the mail. It should not be that complicated.
Several of you have asked via email (firstname.lastname@example.org, please keep the questions coming) and Twitter (@ronlieber) about TransUnion’s free TrueIdentity product, which the company is pushing on consumers who are considering a freeze. The company sure seems to want people to sign up for that product instead of freezing their files.
It’s not clear whether the mechanism TransUnion says it uses to “lock” files with that product provides the same protection as a freeze, or whether it is a lesser form of protection meant to shield TransUnion from some regulatory or legal perspective. A giant hat tip, however, to the person on Twitter who pointed out the company’s draconian terms and conditions.
It is also unclear whether consumers’ use of the TrueIdentity product would make it easier for TransUnion to continue selling those consumers’ data (in the same way that Equifax and Experian do) than if they froze their files outright. I have repeatedly asked a TransUnion spokesman, David Blumberg, for clarification, but I have not received it yet.
I’m also waiting for answers about whether TransUnion and Experian will make freezes free for a period as Equifax has now done (or forever, for everyone, as all three agencies should do).
I reached out to Mr. Adams at Equifax to ask whether he would be resigning in the wake of the lackluster response to victims’ outrage. He responded by email, using an exclamation point for emphasis: “No, but for the record I am considering dropping my NYT subscription and picking up the Wash Post!”
In a statement on Monday on a website that Equifax created to deal with the most recent breach, the company included this: “We are listening to issues consumers have experienced and their suggestions. These are helping to further inform our actions, and we are now sharing regular updates on this website. Thank you for your continued patience and feedback as we continue to improve this process.”
Translation: They fell short, far short, even though they had weeks to prepare themselves for the reaction. They know it. And the correct response from all of us is a full-throated roar that is anything but patient.
An earlier version of this article misidentified the company that Dann Adams works for. He is the president of the global consumer solutions unit at Equifax, not Experian.
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