$0 vs this "service" from these clowns.
America's trade watchdog has officially told millions in the US not to apply for the $125 it promised each of them as part of the deal it struck with Equifax – and instead take up an offer of free credit monitoring. In a memo on Wednesday, FTC assistant director Robert Schoshinski said the regulator has been overwhelmed by …
The signups are a joke too.
"Please re-verify all the extremely sensitive financial data we lost, so we can better serve it to others. We also need your whole-house baby bottle nipple count, favorite brand and flavor of jam, and preferred shower head angle to verify your identity."
It always seems they don't know who we are, then want even more data.
And I'm sure all these fines levied (real or imagined) are tax deductible against future Equifax earnings, lowering their tax liability. The net effect will be less US tax revenue, which middle class America will have to make up for or just gets piled on to the US national debt. So who are the real criminals here? The thieves who stole the data, or the government officials and politicians?
This sort of "regulation" is what Americans are (or should be) used to, since that's what we've been getting for a LONG time. Until we get a Congress not owned in fee simple by the big corporations, which is to say NEVER, it will continue.
These aren't the regulators you were hoping for. Move along!
Reading the settlement, clause IX.D says that if funds remain in the Consumer Fund (i.e., for credit monitoring) at the end of the claims period, it shall be used to lift the Alternative Reimbursement Compensation Cap (the 'up to $125' part). So if no one wants the credit monitoring, there's potentially up to $425 million available as cash – enough to give the full amount to 3.4 million people. Slightly better, though I'd still rather have them have to set aside $18 billion to fully compensate everyone affected.
The problem I have with these shenanigans is that you do not have a choice when it comes to Equifax, so maybe I ought to prod some people in the EU Commission to start looking at this.
I am supposed to take some responsibility for who I give my details to, but Equifax gets that from others without my permission. Effectively, in my book that means they acquired those details illegally to start with, and I want answers there. Those who gave my details to them must be held responsible.
These credit rating agencies are in a massively privileged position: they get an unreasonable free ride on the privacy rules that apply to every other business (GDPR anyone?), and very light regulation. Ordinary people are their product.
In exchange for that, it must be an absolute requirement from regulators in all countries, that these companies provide full credit monitoring as well as locking/unlocking for everyone on their database for free. There is no way that we (their product) should be charged anything for monitoring or controlling them or their industry (credit).
If, as they claim, their service is exceptional (fundamental to the functioning of the economy, etc) and needs to be exempt from the privacy requirements everyone else has to comply with, then there need to be exceptional requirements in place to protect the people on the database:
- Automatic, permanent (with opt-out available) free credit monitoring
- Immediate and full visibility of all requests made (who, when, why) and copies of specific data provided
- Immediate, and free, locking/unlocking. Also the option to require specific approval from the subject for each request.
- Full visibility of data stored (whether provided to any requester or not)
- Full visibility of any analysis/processing/conclusions performed (for example, an algorithm summarising some data or providing a credit rating)
- Immediate and unconditional ability to add a dispute, and a proposed correction, to any data, which must be provided whenever the data (or a result calculated from it) is provided
- Fast (free) process to get corrections made, including maximum response times from providers who have provided the incorrect data
- External, independent process (free to the subject) to get disputes resolved when the subject and the provider do not agree on a correction
Yes, these are exceptional requirements. But they are the ones claiming their business is exceptional.
"Yes, these are exceptional requirements."
Not really. When the process was much more manual it would have been. Now it's all computerized so reports and notifications just take a few watts to squirt out. The vast majority of people aren't going to have much activity on their CR anyway.
Meanwhile, the rest of the world wonders what "credit monitoring" even means. Is this a North-America only thing? I saw vague reports in UK, but it doesn't seem very relevant. My assumption is that it's somehow a consequence of the lack of ID cards. Or maybe it's just due to having a credit-based economy.
Here in Spain we have some sort of Equifax-like enterprises but that only collect data from unpaid bills and other debts, which all credit-giving business have a clause allowing them to share your data in case of unpayment and check against them before granting credit. So, in theory, they only collect such data from people who would have a poor credit rating in the US. If you have no debts, you're clean and they will know nothing about you.
What really happens is that any utility, usually telecoms, will bill you "by mistake" a huge amount. If you have no funds to pay it or if you tell the bank to revert the charge, the utility will first share your data to these agencies (because at that point you're in debt with them) and then "acknowledge" the mistake and revert the bill. But your personal data and your debt has already been shared to these agencies.
This practice has become so prevalent that any serious business consulting these unpayment databases will routinely ignore entries from utilities unless they are recurrent.
"Credit monitoring" is a largely worthless piece of BS that was invented early on when the first large leak of financial data happened. The purpose of it is to minimize the amount the company has to actually pony up, while at the same time attempting to make the affected people feel like "something has been done".
Equifax will probably write off the settlement, and the cost of free credit monitoring, while at the same time count the cost of free credit monitoring as income - after a mark up from the cost, take a tax break for the loss of "goodwill" value and then take an increase in the goodwill value overall due to the offering of free credit monitoring. Since this ends up representing a net gain in income, the top executives will take home bigger bonuses and stock options. I wish my company would reward failure so lavishly.
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