Equifax Secrets Now Under the Microscope

2017-10-09 by Ronn Torossian

Equifax breach

Another week and yet more secrets about the Equifax hacking scandal are being revealed. Chief among those this week is just exactly how much Equifax knows about your own secrets.

The know the first loan you applied for, which cars you prefer, and which stores you shop at. They know the sort of places you want to live and where you work and who lives with you.

But it’s not just what Equifax knows that has people concerned. It’s what they do with that information. One of Equifax’s biggest streams of income is selling information back to creditors. It’s an interesting cycle, really. Lenders gather bits of data from an applicant, then send it to the credit bureaus to determine if a customer is worth the credit risk. Then, the bureaus, like Equifax, collate and aggregate that information before selling back to other lenders.

Since the files they keep stretch back decades, the information these credit reporting agencies have is extremely valuable. Just how valuable is that information? Well, Equifax brought in more than $3.1 billion last year. That puts Equifax in the middle of the Big Three credit bureaus. Experian brought in $4.34 billion, and TransUnion took in $1.7 billion.

Unfortunately for Equifax, though, that treasure chest of data has not become its biggest anchor. Millions of customers are angry that the company put their most personal financial data and identities at risk thanks to the massive data breach.

What’s worse, at this point, these consumers don’t know if they’re affected, and, if so, just how much. It could be nothing, it could be a life-changing headache that takes years to correct. They just don’t know. And “not knowing” is consumer kryptonite. We hate having to wonder and worry if something is going to fall out of the clear blue sky and land right on us.

As it deals with this growing consumer rage, Equifax is also dealing with investigations at both the state and federal level, as well as a number of lawsuits that will tie up resources that the company needs to right the ship and get back in the good graces of consumers.

It’s unknown yet how much of an impact this will have on Equifax overall. Will consumers demand creditors use other firms to make lending decisions? If this happens, it could be a tipping point that creates a massive consumer PR problem for Equifax. Right now, the anger and worry are mostly unfocused. But if those emotions do find purchase in some kind of specific action, these lawsuits may be the least of the company’s worries.

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.

5w ronn torossian

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