By Michelle Singletary
September 19, 2017
I’m still waiting on Equifax to give me what it promised.
Like millions of others, I was informed by the credit bureau that my personal financial information may have been compromised by the company’s recent epic data breach.
The Equifax debacle posed a quadruple threat, exposing people’s addresses, birth dates, social security and driver’s license numbers. Data for 143 million consumers is now out there, quite probably being used to commit identity theft.
To reassure consumers that it was handling this mess, Equifax set up a dedicated website to answer questions and offer free credit monitoring through TrustedID Premier: https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.
[What did Equifax executives know and when did they know it?]
I went to the site. Here’s what Equifax promises from this premier service:
— A copy of your Equifax credit report.
— Automated alerts of key changes to your account files with Equifax and the other two major bureaus, Experian and TransUnion.
— Ability to lock and unlock your Equifax credit report.
— Scanning of suspicious websites to see if your Social Security number is found.
— $1 million worth of identity theft insurance, which is supposed to help pay for certain out-of-pocket expenses if your identity is ever stolen.
I’ve used credit monitoring in the past, but I did not find it useful, so I’ve been on my own keeping watch over my information. But I figured it couldn’t hurt to get the free protection for a year, right? I mostly just wanted the locking feature.
I was told what to expect: “You will receive an email with a link to finalize your enrollment and activate your product. Please be patient. Due to the high volume of requests, emails may be delayed. If you have not received your email within a few days, please check your spam and junk folders. Thank you again; we appreciate your patience!”
I was told it could take up to 72 hours.
Six days and counting and I’ve still not received a link. I checked and double-checked my spam folder. Nothing.
And I’m not alone.
[After massive Equifax breach, let’s make it free to freeze your credit]
Nikolaos from Virginia, like so many other readers nationwide who reached out to me, also complained of not being able to successfully enroll. He also is frustrated that he hasn’t been able to put a freeze on his Equifax file, which many security experts are advising. A credit freeze will lock out new lenders from seeing your credit report. (Lenders and companies you already have a business relationship with can still see your file.)
“The credit freeze requested me to first enter all my information, only to deny the freeze and requiring me to send that same information via regular mail,” Nikolaos wrote.
Another reader, Lornie, had a similar experience. “I’ve been trying for three days and five times.”
Tim from Massachusetts hasn’t been successful either. He got this message: “To ensure delivery of our emails to your inbox, please add email@example.com to your address book.”
He did and made some headway. He got a link to complete the enrollment. But when he clicked it, he was asked for a username and password. He hadn’t been prompted to set up either.
He called what is supposed to be the dedicated call center for the breach — 866-447-7559.
“I got a human who told me they were overwhelmed with calls and I should try again in a few days,” he said. “I did so and got the same result. I am really unsure what to do at this point and dread having my identity stolen. In a bit of a panic.”
Equifax keeps apologizing for the delays. At one point the company said it faced difficulties because of Hurricane Irma.
“We are experiencing a high volume of requests for security freezes, and have experienced some technical issues,” a spokesperson emailed me. “We are working diligently to ensure an improved consumer experience.”
I get it. The company is overwhelmed. Still, do better.
It is not too much to demand (because we are way past the polite phase of asking) that the company hire as many people as it needs and/or amp up its online system so that it can handle the volume of requests from folks potentially harmed by the company’s failure to protect their personal information.
Further, given the delays, Equifax needs to extend the arbitrary Nov. 21 cutoff to sign up for the identity theft protection service. Keep enrollment open as long as it takes to sign up people who were harmed.
And perhaps a name change is in order for its TrustedID Premier service. We did trust the company and look where we are.
I guess you could say I was an ugly duckling… I went through a really awkward 7th grade year adapting to a normal school setting. One outburst, one chair thrown, it was children’s village for me. Wasn’t even aloud to ride the bus, had to take a taxi because I was slandered by the state so much for being such a menace. When I looked at myself in the mirror; I didn’t feel ugly or deformed, however, in my heart I definitely felt I was a monster though. Sitting in class one day, the class hoe (excuse my non-gentleman-ness) was kissing all the boys because the Sped teacher had a no show. When I came my turn; she grabbed my face, smiled, and was like “I don’t think so.” That was the first strike to my feeling like I was ugly phase. Strike two, I was in line waiting for food, when the lunch mom was like “you go over here.” The line she pointed to was the line with the kids who had down syndrome. Maybe it was the medications causing me to drool on myself, lol, idk. All I know is I felt pretty ugly. The next year; a buddy of mine who was kind of hazing me said, “Dan is so ugly, no girl would want to date him.” Then this girl who I didn’t know was a lesbian said, “yeah, I’d rather be a lesbian.” My heart dropped, that was the last straw. I officially died at that point. Of all the things that happened to me; The mean ol‘ voices 24-7, shadow people shaking my bed until 4 am, the meds, institutions; isolation from family and friends, none of it could compare to social rejection from girls my own age. Rejection killed me. I said to God with a holding a butter knife against my neck “I don’t understand how such a loving God could do this to me; I’m so young, I don’t believe in you anymore, I have nothing; no one close to me, no one who loves me, I accepted all the other things, but this is too much to bear. I want to see love; please, if you love me – show me your face, you’re all that I have. Wasn’t expecting it, but sure enough like Mufasa from the Lion King, all the clouds in the sky morphed into the face of what I recognized as Jesus Christ. Never heard a good voice in my head before, but there’s a first for everything I suppose. The voice said, this is my son in whom I’m well pleased, tonight I call you out of darkness to be my prophet. I obviously didn’t tell this to anyone; because truthfully, I thought it was just the chemical imbalances in my brain acting up, I accepted that school of thought. I was not the normal psych victim, I took my meds faithfully as prescribed, even to the point of death, which I’ll talk about later on. Now the truth behind a liar or crazy person, and an actual biblical freak of nature is this… The apostle when blinded by the light, wasn’t the only one who witnessed the event; however, he was the only one affected by the light. We all experience divine encounters differently, which I’ll also explain later as well. He had a human named Ananias confirmed he was the one by an angel, similar to my life, the confirmation of my sanity was that the next day my Dad called me out of nowhere, asked if I wanted to see him on the weekend. On the way home he started asking me about God; I didn’t know my Dad was a Christian, before even putting his hands on my shoulder to recite the sinner’s prayer, my legs went numb like I was high on heroin, never done it, but the feeling was out of this world. I then spoke in the language of Angel’s, although up until that point, I had never stepped foot in a Pentecostal church, nor have I ever heard any ‘human’ speak that language before, or even read Corinthians, it happened. It was real, and I was a brand new 14-year-old lol. The next day, it was evolution week being taught in science class. What are the odds that all the kids in my class were Baptists? Lol CIA didn’t plan that event ha–ha. 😉 Science teacher debates with students, says simply, “Prove the existence of God, or end the conversation.” I stood up, I said “I can prove God exists.” All eyes were on me, then I spoke. My best bud who sat next to me slams King Jimmy on the table, dust flies off as he opens the good book and says, “look here, you can’t do this anymore!” “Where there are tongues, they will be stilled, and where they’re prophecies they will cease, because when perfection comes, the imperfect goes away.” The other Baptist in front on me said, “how did it happen?” I said “it happened to me while my dad was driving me home in his truck on 1-75.” He said, “how did he baptize you while driving?” “Was there water in the back of his truck bed?” I said no, “it was from the spirit.” MyMarilyn Mansonite Goth buddies in the back of the room studying Anton Lavey for dummies said, “why does Dan get to have the devil‘s power?” “Not fair!” I said no, “it’s from God, I swear!” My life was never the same after this, I grew closer and closer to God, but kept my identity a secret. Pretty impressive for a 14-year-old, to keep such a big secret.