John Oliver breaks down the Equifax data breach
“[Equifax makes] most of their money selling our data to businesses, like banks, so in their eyes, we’re not the consumer—we’re the product. To think of it in terms of KFC, we’re not the guy buying the 10-piece buckets; we’re the f@$%ing chickens.”
—John Oliver on HBO’s Last Week Tonight, commenting on the Equifax data breach impacting millions of Americans’ personal information
The Equifax data breach that was revealed last month might get buried in the news cycle by flashier (and frankly, more urgent) headlines. Yet having their personal information stolen and vulnerable to fraud will be a long-term worry for more than 145 million Americans.
In the past weeks, the credit reporting agency has been taken to task on Capitol Hill (with Senate hearings in early October attended by none other than Rich Uncle Pennybags of Monopoly fame). The IRS has also suspended a $7.25 million contract with Equifax questioned by Congress following the breach. Much of the fallout, though, lands on the affected consumers, as John Oliver pointed out on Last Week Tonight.
The maddening thing is, many of the security measures consumers are now being encouraged to take to protect their data will end up putting money right into the pockets of—you guessed it—credit reporting agencies like Equifax. Senator Elizabeth Warren took former Equifax CEO Richard Smith to task during the hearings over the fact that LifeLock, an anti-fraud company, purchases credit monitoring services from Equifax. In his report, John Oliver encouraged viewers hit by the breach to freeze their credit reports with all three major credit bureaus—while also noting, in exasperation, that the cost of unfreezing those credit reports for future legitimate inquiries, such as mortgage or credit card applications, will continue to drive revenue for the agencies.
There are lots of common-sense steps to take if you have reason to believe your data is vulnerable. But it may be time to face a bitter reality: We’re the f@$%ing chickens.