Equifax Breach Puts 143 Million Credit

2017-09-11 by Ronn Torossian

Equifax breach

Using consumers at risk of identity theft We live in the age of the computer pirate, the hacker, and the security breach. It’s almost becoming pedestrian. Week after week, someone is getting hacked. From big box stores to restaurants to grocery stores to government agencies and political groups. Hacking feels just part of life these days. But not all hacks are created equal. Some hacks create more fear than others. When it was announced last week that credit monitoring bureau, Equifax, had been hacked, American consumers grabbed their hearts and their wallets. Then they read further, and that only made it worse. According to the Associated Press, the Equifax breach “exposed the social security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver’s licenses” of up to 143 million Americans to hackers.

For those playing at home, that’s more than half of all American adults. But that’s not all. Apparently, the credit card information for about 209,000 American adults was also assessed.

According to the report, Equifax admitted the file breach happened between May and July of this year. While the hack attack mainly targeted Americans, some Canadian and British customers were also compromised.

Equifax CEO Richard Smith made the following initial statement: “This is clearly a disappointing event for our company, and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do. I apologize to consumers and our business customers for the concern and frustration this causes…”

That missive fell mostly flat. First, it put the embarrassment and injury on Equifax, making it about them, when consumers are only concerned about their protection, not the company’s embarrassment.

The consumer response to the Equifax announcement was strong, immediate and negative. Consumers were aghast at the idea that a company that monitored their most private personal financial information would be compromised. Sure, it was “possible” in the back of their minds, but the fact that it happened was horrendous.

Now, the terrible waiting begins, both for consumers and for Equifax. No one but the perpetrators know exactly what they hacked the company nor what they will do with that information. It’s possible nothing will happen, though that’s unlikely. It’s also possible this could create havoc in the credit reporting industry, not to mention any and all social and financial scenarios that depend on personal identification for access.

Meanwhile, Equifax needs to do more than express remorse for the “concern” this has caused consumers. They need to step up and connect with what their customers are really thinking and feeling. And they need to reassure angry and worried consumers that there are solutions, no matter what happens next.

About Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations. He is an experienced leader in the public relations industry with over 20 years of experience. Ronn Torossian has been named as Public Relations executive of the year by the American Business Awards, and has run countless award-winning Public Relations programs.

ronn torossian 5wpr ceo

Ronn Torossian: Insights from a Native New Yorker and CEO of 5WPR

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 250 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider, and a recipient of Crain’s New York 2021 Most Notable in Marketing & PR. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and has authored two editions of his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations," which is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities