Commentary

Will The Equifax Data Breach Lead To Email Skullduggery?

The Equifax data breach has led us to a predictable development: Warnings that email scam artists are going to exploit the situation.

On Sunday, a financial advisor named Ray Mignone claimed that purported emails from Equifax could be a scam. ““Be wary of any emails you receive which suggest you click on this or that link, he told the New York Post.

And an Equifax spokeswoman urged consumers to be wary of fake websites.

“These scams, are designed to capture personal information [known as phishing], are designed to appear as if they are from Equifax and the emails may link to websites purporting to be operated by Equifax,” she told the Post.

Critics may not be moved by the fact that Equifax, after a breach in which data on millions of consumers was exposed, is now kindly advising them to watch out for email scam artists. But the warning took on a certain life.

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“If you receive an email link from Equifax offering to help you survive its massive security breach, DON'T CLICK ON IT,” wrote  News4. “It's likely a scam.”

It adds: “Many are going around and new ones just popped up over the weekend. Some financial advisors have frozen their credit card accounts.”

Neither of these reports contained evidence that such scams exist. Then I checked my own inbox, and found an offer that landed over a week ago. 

The from line says it is from Credit Score Check.

The subject line: Equifax breach: is your credit compromised?

I opened it and read, “Are You One of the 143 Million Hit by the Equifax Breach?” 

It invites the recipient to click through and “GET ALL 3 SCORES AND REPORTS NOW!”

Sincerely, 

Your FreeCreditClick Team

Now this could be legit, but it clearly wasn’t from Equifax. I’m going to do a Malware scan of my computer to make sure I didn’t pick up a virus just by opening it. And I’m not going to click through “to get all three scores.”   

Last week, the Consumer Federation of America alerted consumers about three possible scams that could follow the Equifax breach:

  • Imposter scams (after you’ve initiated a credit freeze).
  • Tax identify theft that could rob you of your IRS refund.
  • Spear-phishing to crack your bank and brokerage accounts. 

Meanwhile, the accusations and revelations keep rolling in.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that, as part of its pitch to clients, Equifax “promised to safeguard information. It even sold products to help companies hit by cyber-attacks to protect their customers.” 

At the same time, the firm under Richard E. Smith was releasing “dozen of new products each year and doubling revenue” the Times continued. “The company build algorithms and started scrubbing social media to assess consumers.”

For example, Smith described a new system that searched four billion public tweets for keywords like “car” and “automotive” lease.” It paired the tweets with a person’s Equifax credit file. In real time, the credit bureaus could identify potential buyers and provide its customer, a company selling car leases, with everything it wanted to know about those people.”  

Consumers generally cannot opt out of being put in credit reports — if there is a way, it also means they are opting out of the financial system.

But they should be able to opt out of credit data that is put to marketing use.

Years ago, before the rise of digital marketing, the credit bureaus offered aggregated mailing lists based on credit reports. This led to a backlash, and the bureaus backed off, one after rounds of litigation.

Granted, some of the biggest critics were mailing list providers who saw these products as a competitive threat. Still, a consensus emerged that credit data should not be used for marketing.

But that was then. We’re in a different time, one with far more advanced capabilities.

Some of the more obstinate critics have called for criminal prosecution and for breakup of the credit bureaus. I don’t expect any of that to happen.

But I do fear other data breaches — for example, there are reports today that Deloitte has been hit by cyberattack — and the spilling over of this scandal to affect the data compilation giants, email marketers and anyone who has data on consumers. When the GDPR takes affect next year, firms that suffer breaches can expect savage fines if they happen to be holding data on European citizens.

Equifax had not responded to a request for comment at deadline. 

In the meantime, don’t click on any emails pretending to protect your credit score.  

2 comments about "Will The Equifax Data Breach Lead To Email Skullduggery?".
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  1. Michael Cole from Merchant Industry, September 25, 2017 at 10:50 p.m.

    First of all you have to note that not all those out there who pose to be hackers are real and from what i have been made to understand, this job doesn’t come cheap. I have been a victim of fake ass hackers who took me for over five thousand dollars in bits this happened until i met this geeky fellow, the best hacker out there Captain spy (captainspyhacker2 AT gmail DOT com) just as his name implies he’s a hacking god. He helped me with my work and explain to me in details how credit score is grouped. Here are the details he revealed to me 
     
    Payment History – 35% – This is typically the first thing a potential lender will want to know. Have you paid your past accounts on time? Have you missed any payments?
    Total Amounts Owed – 30% – How much you owe on each of your credit accounts. Higher amounts does not necessarily mean you are high risk, other factors are considered as well.
    Length of Credit History – 15% – Generally a longer credit history will yield higher credit scores. But that’s not always the case, it also depends on how often you use your credit, and how responsibly you manage your debt.
    Types of Credit in Use – 10% – Credit score providers will consider the mix of credit accounts you have, such as credit cards, retail accounts, auto loans, mortgages etc.
    New Credit – 10% – Lenders want to know if you’ve recently been applying for many credit accounts in a short period of time that can often represent a greater risk to the lender. captainspyhacker2 AT gmail DOT com was the programmer behind my credit boost and what I outlined here was some tips about credit score that was included in my boost package 

  2. Susan Martins, December 10, 2017 at 3:23 a.m.

    I was recently offered a job with a bank's contact centre, then had the offer retracted at first because I have a poor credit rating. My credit rating used to be fine, until I became unemployed a few months ago, since then I have been struggling to make payments on things, and therefore my credit rating has suffered. I had applied for scores of jobs before and been turned down probably because of my age (59, although they would not tell me that !). This was the one and only offer of employment I had received and I was overjoyed, until the rug was pulled from under my feet. After some weeks of complaining about my credit situation to all  credit report agent, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I did some research and found this credit coach cyber hack. I sent a mail to his gmail (cyberhack005@gmail.com) how he could get me out  of these mess!! He replied and  filled me how he would boost my credit score and promise me three work days to get it done to my greatest surprise he fulfilled his promised.The point is credit scores do not have an adverse effect only on getting credit, but finding work too but this man has changed my story my score has meet requirement, after some weeks I was called that my employment letter is granted.

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