Consumer Rage Won’t Kill Equifax, but Business Rage Might

Equifax leaked your personal data. It is now even more likely than before (and it was already trivial for it to happen) that you will be the victim of identity theft. We say with software that if you don’t pay for the product you are the product. But with the credit monitoring agencies, that is literally true. You are the product that is being sold. The customers are business, banks, and credit card companies.

So it is important to remember that Equifax, Experian, and Transunion do not care about you. Your social security number getting leaked is, to them, kind of like a whole row of milk spoiling is to a grocery store. They don’t care and they won’t.

There are really only two ways that these companies will ever pay for their crimes. The first is if people get mad enough to push our government to actually do something about them. But if you have been paying attention to our government, you are probably not holding your breath right now.

But there is another way to punish them, and it may very well happen. Businesses, and really the entire industry that relies on credit, are going to take a hit as a result of this. Credit freezes were always available, but this is the first time I can remember that people have been freezing their credit in massive numbers. So many people are doing it that the credit monitoring company websites are crashing, and their customer service lines are overwhelmed (more on that soon, because wow was it terrible).

The retail sector, already nearing the point of collapse, basically relies on easy, immediate credit. Car loans, store credit cards, zero percent cards, all of these have increasingly become the backbone of consumer purchasing. Even iPhones are now sold on lines of credit more often than outright. All of these require credit checks. If you froze your credit, this is much harder to do.

Expect this to become a major problem for stores, dealerships, and banks. Even if customers are able to easily unfreeze, that can take a few days. There will be lost sales, hours of additional overtime, and frustrated shoppers. This may well become a permanent state.

Am I saying you shouldn’t freeze your credit? Absolutely not. You definitely should do a credit freeze. You have no obligation to make things easy for an industry that would sell your identity to Satan to get a bump that quarter. Protect yourself, that is your priority, and a credit freeze is really the only good option (and it still isn’t enough so long as social security numbers are used as identification).

But to businesses, if you suffer because of this, remember that it was Equifax’s fault. And if you still do business with them, ask yourself why?