I spent this past weekend fretting at a distance about friends and family who live or have homes or have family in Florida; obsessively watching the weather news (and crushing on Chris Hayes); and figuring out what to do about my sacred and profane personal information.
I’m not 100% certain what the message I got back from Equifax meant. But I’m leaning toward the likelihood that, after I coughed up my name, address, DOB and last six Social on the Equifax “find out if you were hacked” site, I was kinda/sorta informed that I was one of the 143 million lucky Americans (60% of the adult population, more or less) whose information had been grabbed by hackers. Swell.
I’m just thrilled at the prospect of some Russian mafioso buying his girlfriend a mink coat on my dime. Can’t wait to find that someone’s tapping my Medicare account so that they can cruise their 40 year old lazy-arse around in a Hoveround. Love the idea of some North Korean hacker syphoning my 401K drive so that Kim Jong Un can import unlimited fountains worth of Jim Beam.
Among my gripes:
- I don’t believe I ever asked to have a relationship with Equifax to begin with. But I guess if you have a credit card, Equifax owns a chunk of you.
- Sure, info thieves are incredibly persistent and clever, but what kind of half-assed organization are they running, that they had 143 million records hacked?
- That fabulous offer Equifax made to monitor everyone’s credit for free for a whole entire year, during which time they’ll be marketing to you and, once the free year ends, putting the big press on for you to buy.
- Oh, and by accepting the fabulous free offer, you’re apparently surrendering the right to join the class action suit against Equifax.
And then there’s the crowning glory aspect of all this:
A few days after the breach was discovered in late July, three senior executives unloaded nearly $2 million in Equifax stock. The three are Chief Financial Officer John W. Gamble; Joseph M. Loughran III, the president of U.S. information solutions; and Rodolfo O. Ploder, the president of workforce solutions. (The day after the breach was announced, Equifax shares fell 14%.)
The CFO, head of US information solutions, and president of workforce solutions were not among those immediately informed of the breach?
The company has claimed that these fellows knew nothing.
A company spokeswoman, Ines Gutzmer, said in an email Thursday night: “The three executives who sold a small percentage of their Equifax shares on Tuesday, August 1, and Wednesday, August 2, had no knowledge that an intrusion had occurred at the time they sold their shares.” (Source: Washington Post)
How poorly run is Equifax that these dudes weren’t on the first call list? What kind of controls, what kind of compliance processes does this place have? I guess if they were any good they wouldn’t have been hacked to begin with, but still…
Of course, a corporate defense attorney jumped in to provide what will no doubt be a pillar of the Equifax Three defense:
“It would be incredible if these sophisticated insiders would sell their shares based upon news. They are sophisticated executives and they know full well that their selling the shares triggers public disclosures. It just doesn’t make sense that the CFO would sell a small lot of shares before a news event,” [Stuart] Slotnick said.
Of course, the other way to look at this is that “sophisticated insiders” would know that a big sell-off would raise SEC eyebrows, so they just went for a bit of walking around money. Gamble et al. may have felt it was worth the gamble.
From what I gather, these sorts of transactions are generally pre-scheduled. These particular ones weren’t.
Fun with circumstantial evidence!
There’s other news that points to insiders taking advantage of not-yet-public information. In a typical month, there are 260 Equifax option contracts purchased. On a single day in August – pre-breach announcement, but post-breach known internally – 2,600 September puts entitling some lucky person (maybe even a sophisticated insider, or someone who knows a sophisticated insider) to unload 260,000 shares of Equifax for $135 in September. Not a bad bet, given that when last I checked (Friday close) was $123.(Source of option info: CNBC)
And as if I need another reason to be displeased about the Equif#*(@*#&-ers at Equifax, for some reason the very name Equifax has wormed the Aqualung earworm into my ear. So now I don’t just have to worry about someone buying beachfront property in Costa Rica, and filing a bogus tax return on me, I’ve got Jethro Tull on my brain.
At least Irma didn’t turn out to be quite as ghastly as it could have been. No friends and family ended up needing aqualungs…