is promising consumers new control over access to their personal credit
data — for free, and for life — as interim CEO Paulino do Rego Barros
Jr. apologized to people affected by the company's recent data breach.
He said the company had failed to live up to expectations.
"On behalf of Equifax, I want to express my sincere and total apology," Barros wrote in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal.
In the piece published behind the Journal's
online paywall, but that doesn't seem to have been reproduced on
Equifax's own site, Barros also unveiled plans for a new
Jan. 31, Equifax will offer a new service allowing all consumers the
option of controlling access to their personal credit data. The service
we are developing will let consumers easily lock and unlock access to
their Equifax credit files. You will be able to do this at will. It will
be reliable, safe and simple. Most significantly, the service will be
offered free, for life."
The new service,
Barros said, is aimed at disrupting the cybercrime business and easing
consumers' worries — as well as helping the company recover from what
has been a disastrous incident.
Barros was named interim CEO this week, after Equifax's former chairman and CEO Richard F. Smith retired.
The consumer credit reporting company has been criticized for a series
of missteps that compounded consumers' frustration after the company was
hacked and some 143 million consumers' financial and personal data was
Equifax's critics have had much to discuss: The
company waited more than a month to alert the public to the breach;
three of its executives sold stock days after the hack was detected; and
on multiple occasions, its official Twitter account directed customers
to a fake phishing site rather than to its own security update site.
Writing in the Journal,
Barros also acknowledged problems with the company's website and call
centers, as well as a jumbled process of sharing information with
Some of those problems are persisting: on
Thursday morning, the special site Equifax set up to offer updates about
the security breach was displaying a warning that it was having
"difficulties with our TrustedID website" and that it might be
In the Journal, Barros
wrote that the company is extending the sign-up periods for two free
services — credit freezes and the TrustedID Premier credit monitoring
tool — until the end of January.
"We know it's our job to earn back your trust," Barros wrote.
Equifax hack has prompted numerous inquiries, at both the federal and
state levels. Its executives are expected to testify before Senate
committees next week.
As NPR's Chris Arnold reports, the breach
has also led to questions about whether the credit reporting industry
should face wider changes.
"They collect all this information,
they don't ask your permission, and then if the information gets messed
up, it can be very, very hard to get it corrected," Chris said on Morning Edition earlier this week.
calculate your all-important credit score, and so they are the
gatekeepers giving or denying you access to a home loan, car loan, or in
some cases even a job. Many consumer advocates argue that Americans
should be able to see their credit report whenever and as often as they
want. But the credit reporting firms charge customers for that kind of
free and easy access to people's personal financial information."