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Security Software

Equifax Releases Credit Locking App That Doesn't Work (arstechnica.com) 40

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: On Wednesday, the beleaguered credit reporting agency Equifax launched a new service to protect people from the risks of identity theft that the company vastly magnified with a breach of over 145 million people's credit records last year. The service, called Lock & Alert, is fronted by a mobile application and a Web application. It is intended to allow individuals to control access to their credit report on demand. "Lock & Alert allows You to lock and unlock your EIS credit report ('Equifax credit report')," the services' terms of service agreement states. "Locking or unlocking your Equifax credit report usually takes less than a minute." Except when it doesn't.

As Tara Siegel Bernard and Ron Lieber of the New York Times reported, the new service -- which is different from a "freeze" in some ways that are not clear from a legal and regulatory standpoint -- has not been working for some (and possibly all) mobile app users. The idea of the "lock" is that it can be undone in an instant with a swipe of the screen, without incurring a charge to freeze or unfreeze the report or having to provide a PIN number. But attempts by Siegel Bernard to lock her husband's credit report resulted in application timeouts.

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Equifax Releases Credit Locking App That Doesn't Work

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 01, 2018 @06:25PM (#56050881)

    Seriously, how is this joke of a company still allowed to do business? An example should have been made, and considering how redundant they are (at least 4 other credit reporting companies I know of), they should be made an example to ensure the others get their act together.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Until the American public decides to put the Third Box to use, none of these companies will face consequences, they simply have too much money. Start taking out the guys at the top getting off scott-free, then you'll see some turnaround.
    • They should have been taken down after the last breach. It was not their first one.

    • You want to put them out of business, write to them and say that they no longer have your permission to access your accounts or data held about you.

      Now it isn't nearly as good as telling your bank this, but iof you tell your bank they'll restrict access to all credit reference agencies (you may like this idea better BTW).

      When I worked at one, we had issues with some, usually older, accounts where the owner had not checked the little "we can use your data for marketing and other purposes" box and so the data

    • Seriously, how is this joke of a company still allowed to do business? An example should have been made, and considering how redundant they are (at least 4 other credit reporting companies I know of), they should be made an example to ensure the others get their act together.

      Careful... Hit Equifax with a penalty enough to drive the company to the wall, and you concentrate the sector from 4 players down to three, reducing competition. Which is just the problem with the Big Auditors.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Blockchain.

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      Blockchain.

      Chain padlocked to Equifax CEO. Other end attached to a large block. Into the East River. Just might work.

    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      Insufficient information.

      I'm sure it would be possible to implement a blockchain to do something, but you don't specify exactly what you're trying to do...and you've got to be extremely explicit or you end up with a garbage application. (You may anyway if your specs don't properly handle the problem you're trying to address, but if you explicit at least it has a chance of working.)

  • by AlanBDee ( 2261976 ) on Thursday February 01, 2018 @06:45PM (#56051019)

    What's really sad is that they're in a perfect position to provide identity verification given all the data they have on, well everyone. They could easily provide it as a free service to users and charge businesses a fee to confirm someone's identity. Imagine having to provide a pin and one of your five Yubikeys (or similar) when you bought a car, house, credit card, etc.

    With their utter incompetence no sane person would trust them with such a task. Alas, Google will do it instead and that doesn't really make me feel much better.

  • "You may register for Lock & Alert from this Site or through the Apps only on behalf of Yourself and by doing so, You acknowledge and agree that it is illegal to access credit information about anyone else."
  • by timholman ( 71886 ) on Thursday February 01, 2018 @07:10PM (#56051197)

    You (the consumer) are not their customer. Their customers are banks, mortgage lenders, credit card companies, and other entities that loan you money, or let you buy on credit.

    It is not in Equifax's interests for you to freeze your credit. A frozen account is a customer account that cannot be monetized (e.g. by being sold to banks who want to push their credit card on you). So of course Equifax will try to convince you that their "freeze that is not really a freeze" app works. But the thing is, they don't want it to work. If it works, they lose money. So of course it will fail, and you will be the one holding the bag when you are targeted by credit thieves.

    Don't screw around with Equifax. Freeze your credit report, and be done with it (and them).

    • by Anonymous Coward
      This is completely inaccurate. Yes, Lock is not regulated and Freeze is regulated, but the freeze process varies state to state, based upon the local laws. Within your Equifax credit file, there is a single flag, called C-Block (California Block, named after the first state to enact the freeze capabilities). Locks and Freezes both use this flag (which is why you cannot have a lock and a freeze at the same time). Freeze uses a PIN field, which is only used when the flag is set or removed. Anytime a cred
    • It's data Equifax has collected from lenders and companies you did business with in the past. Should a restaurant be allowed to freeze Yelp, preventing the site from from publicizing reviews visitors have posted of that restaurant?

      In the former case, Equifax is taking "reviews" of you that companies have given it, and sharing them with other companies. You are not the customer. You are a third party to the transaction, even though the reviews are about you.

      In the latter case, Yelp is taking reviews
      • It's data Equifax has collected from lenders and companies you did business with in the past. Should a restaurant be allowed to freeze Yelp, preventing the site from from publicizing reviews visitors have posted of that restaurant?

        No, but Yelp doesn't publicly list the investors, current account balances and outstanding debts, or play a large part in whether or not they will be able to receive a small business loan. Also, Yelp hasn't exactly had a massive, high profile data breach that put millions of restaurants at risk of identity theft.

        In the former case, Equifax is taking "reviews" of you that companies have given it, and sharing them with other companies. You are not the customer. You are a third party to the transaction, even though the reviews are about you.

        Yelp is having issues of its own, but at least the information disclosed on the site is either publicly listed (business name and address, etc.), or individual anecdotes. My SSN isn't considered pub

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Technically it's not your data either

        See the right of informational self-determinism. [wikipedia.org] Its a concept in european law that people have a property right in information about themselves. We are long overdue for a similar legal right in the USA.

        It's data Equifax has collected from lenders and companies you did business with in the past. Should a restaurant be allowed to freeze Yelp, preventing the site from from publicizing reviews visitors have posted of that restaurant?

        Corporations are not people. They don't have a legal or moral right to control dissemination of information about their business practices.

  • The App is working as intended and as designed.

    It is your misunderstanding it is going to lock or unlock credit reports. That is not, and has never been, the design intent or goal.

    This app and all the densely worded EULA will be read out with a straight face to government regulators by the lawyers of Equifax. Any regulator/ inspector who does not accept all claims by the lawyers as true, will get calls from Reps and Senators. They might even read it out in senate/house hearings and will be accepted as e

  • This is presumably that 'free credit freeze' functionality that Equifax announced a while ago that they were going to make available in January. We'll have to see if it actually works as advertised, though, or is at all secure.

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