Equifax has been miserly in providing information and help to people who have been affected by the mass data breach that has involved 143 million Americans and 100,000 Canadians.
Ellen, a Chinese News reader, has allegedly become a victim to Equifax breach that. Using her identity stolen from the site, a hacker group has bought several vehicles, with the costs of $25,000 each. Ellen had not been aware of the incident until she received notice from the insurance company asking her to pay for the insurance premiums. Through investigation, Ellen has found that a hacker group has taken over her identity profile, using all her information kept with Equifax – from her name and address to her social insurance number and her driver’s licence – impersonate her. They borrowed loans from banks and applied vehicle insurance for the vehicles.
Falling prey to identity theft is a devastating experience. As cyber theft techniques grow more sophisticated then ever and the scale of the crime on the rise, the data breach wreaks havoc on victims’ lives, creating long lasting impact on their digital, financial, physical and mental wellbeing. According to a report from US Department of Justice, about 17.6 million Americans were the victims of one or more identity theft incidents in 2014, with two-third of them experiencing direct financial damage and the victims reporting an average loss of $7761 (US).
Ellen who saw more bills from more banks and insurance companies coming and in much higher amount, was in shock. The potential financial loss, based on her rough estimates, could be in the amount of hundred of thousand dollars. Her mind was boggled with burning questions: How to verify that I was the victim of the breach? What are the residual effects of the incident and would I be vulnerable to future crimes taking advantages of my legal identity? Who will be responsible for the financial suffering of me as an innocent victim? Would Equifax offer any help in my recovery process at all?
Unfortunately, Google search engine has offered little answers to her questions. It provides more information to US victims than their Canadian counterparts, allowing US consumers to verify from Equifax website whether their identify file was stolen by entering the last three-digit of their social insurance number. But such an app is not applicable for Equifax Canadian customers.
Believing that Ellen was not the only victims in the Chinese community that have fallen victims to the cybercrime, Chinese News called and emailed Equifax with the questions Ellen and others are seeking for answer, but has received no response by the press time.
Equifax callous attitude has sparked criticisms from the media. A Globe article points out that by slowing responding to victims’ concerns, it has sent out a message to its customers that they don’t have the company as their back and that they are dealing with the loss on your own.
“The saddest storyline in the Equifax situation is the lack of respect shown to people worried their data may have been stolen,” the article says. And the total disrespect for the victims whose personal information was compromised due to the company’s error.
“The incident has really hit our panic button,” says Ellen. “But adding fuel to the fire was the fact we had obtained little help from Equifax and don’t know what will happen next.”
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