I’d call this unbelievable, but in 2017, the year of untrammeled greed, it’s merely par for the course.
Remember Equifax? You know, the big credit report company whose security breach exposed the personal information of millions of Americans?
The company that collects financial, demographic, and employment information, but is apparently unable to install security patches in a timely fashion or reliably tell you if your information was stolen?
The one that can’t even keep track of its own websites and sent consumers to a fake site instead of their own (unreliable) “check your information” site?
The one that initially tried to force people to waive their right to sue if they tried to find out whether their information had been stolen?
The story behind that second link suggests there’s good reason to believe Equifax is using the massive security breach–which exposed personal information on nearly half of the American population–as a revenue-generating opportunity. In short, by directing worried consumers to Equifax’ own credit freezing service, they’re lining up millions of people who will, once the initial year is up, be paying around $30 every time they need to let someone check their credit–when buying a home, a car, a cell phone, or in many cases, even when applying for a job. Nor is that fee fixed: Equifax could raise it at any time.
Apparently they weren’t drawing in enough business, because now they’re getting other companies to shill for them.
Last week, I got a letter from AT&T. Oddly, even though the letter is dated October 23, I didn’t receive it until November 23. Clearly, some poor printer has been working day and night to get these letters out. But I digress.
It says, in part, “There was no breach of AT&T systems or the data we maintain, but we … understand there is a possibility that your personal information might have been exposed.” It then encourages me to go to that same unreliable Equifax site to check my information and “sign up for credit file monitoring and identity theft protection.”
I can’t help but wonder what’s in it for AT&T. I doubt they get a cut of revenue–but only because this is a paper letter, so there’s no way for Equifax to track which suckers came to their site thanks to the letter.
But one odd little possibility comes to mind. If the FCC carries out its threat to repeal the Network Neutrality regulations, will AT&T start charging its customers extra to access Equifax and other credit monitoring services?