CUNA pushes Equifax to notify consumers of breach
Thursday, September 14, 2017
Posted by: Courtney Jackson
Trade association urges consumer notification, requests detailed briefing
Washington, DC – Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Jim Nussle sent a letter to Equifax Chairman and CEO Richard Smith urging Equifax to contact all consumers impacted by its recent data breach, in order to immediately begin addressing the threat to consumer credit files and the potential for identity theft. Nussle also called for a detailed briefing because CUNA remains unconvinced that the steps Equifax has proposed are sufficient to address the data breach.
Equifax’s data breach impacts 143 million American consumers, with an additional 209,000 credit card numbers also being stolen. Nussle states that “the loss of this information puts these consumers at risk for fraud and identity theft as this information is specific to individuals and represents the core of their digital identity. When its members are at risk, credit unions also must take related steps to protect those members. The risk of identity theft could be lifelong when a Social Security number is compromised.”
“We encourage Equifax to develop stronger methods to ensure that all consumers have been contacted and fully appreciate the implication of the breach to their credit file and the risks of identity theft,” Nussle wrote. “A press release and generic letter likely do not suffice for an entity like Equifax that is unknown to many consumers.”
Since Equifax does not have a direct relationship with consumers, correspondence from Equifax may be viewed as junk mail, or as suspicious, causing consumers to miss any notification that they were affected by the breach, Nussle said.
“We also encourage Equifax to immediately provide more information to consumers and businesses impacted by the breach,” Nussle wrote. “The vacuum of information available only serves to sow additional angst for credit unions and consumers and does little to help Equifax protect them from the breach.”
Nussle also requested a number of specifics from Equifax on its breach and consumer notification and protection efforts, so CUNA can adequately inform its member credit unions of the negative impact the breach might have on operations.
CUNA has spent considerable time monitoring and studying the breach and its implications, and hopes a briefing will allow it to more fully assess the effects.
The Equifax Impact
Affected consumer are at risk from criminals using stolen information to fraudulently open accounts, so the most pressing and immediate threat with this breach is identity theft, according to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).
The best thing credit unions can do right now is provide their members with identity protection tips. In press calls and other interactions with association members, CUNA has suggested the following:
The first step consumers should take to find out more is to visit Equifax's website. Equifax has a tool that can help consumers determine whether their data has been exposed. Then, consumers should take steps to protect their identify.
CUNA also has a number of tips at www.stopthedatabreaches.com that can help consumers remain vigilant and protect their personal data. These include:
- Don’t respond to email, text or telephone calls asking for personal or financial information
- Frequently review account activity and immediately report unauthorized transactions
- Place an initial fraud alert with credit bureaus if fraud has occurred.
- Enroll and opt-in for transaction monitoring
- Use card on/off switches (if available)
- Enroll in Verified by VISA / MasterCard Secure Code