What the Equifax Data Breach Tells Us About American Apathy and Its Power to Impoverish Us All
WHILE THE WORLD SLEPT
As most of my fellow Americans were already asleep, preparing for Hurricane Irma, or watching whatever reality T.V. show they like best, I was on DrudgeReport.com, checking for updates not only on the tropical storm situation preparing to impact Florida and the rest of the southeastern United States, but also on the ongoing nuclear stand-off the world is engaged in with North Korea news on Google, and that’s when I saw it:
EQUIFAX, ONE OF THE THREE LARGEST CREDIT AGENCIES/CONSUMER REPORTING AGENCIES IN THE UNITED STATES, HAS LOST THE PERSONAL INFO OF 143M AMERICANS TO HACKERS
As soon as I saw this, I clicked on Drudge’s headline and came to find that this data breach has caused personal identifying information (otherwise known as P.I.I.) for about half of America to be stolen by would-be identity thieves and criminals, including:
- Social Security Numbers
- Driver’s License Numbers
- Credit Card Information (including numbers)
- Names, addresses, dates of birth, etc.
In other words, you, me, your mother and your brother, and everyone in between, essentially, has been affected by this, and the situation has been rendered even worse (as if that could even be possible, or so most people would think) by the following revelation that before the affected people (you and me, etc.) were notified of this breach…
INSIDERS/EXECUTIES OF EQUIFAX DISPOSED OF ABOUT $1.8M IN STOCKS, IN WHAT SURELY CONSTITUTES CRIMINAL INSIDER TRADING ACTIVITY
As a result of this, I immediately (as in, last night—not a month after the breach, which is when Equifax decided to tell us what has happened) logged into Lifelock.com and signed up for identify theft protection services for both me and my wife. Furthermore, as I am an active investor, and because I noticed Equifax stock taking a beating in after-hours on the evening of September 7th, 2017, just after they announced the breach, I initiated what is called a short position in the company’s stock, to take advantage of the inevitable downturn in its price (which will only worsen as news of the breach and the insider trading reaches Mom & Pop and average Americans all across the country) and hopefully make back the nearly $500 I spent on Lifelock’s services (and perhaps even a profit).
Shortly after locking in my stock position, I began to check Twitter and Google news results on this situation to see what others have been saying about it, and I could immediately see that most people are just as pissed off, if not more so, than me. That said, they appeared to also be feeling a lot more helpless than I do about it, because whereas I am a so-called “professional plaintiff” who has substantial experience in suing or settling with American companies over their violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, or FCRA, for short, (and who has earned nearly three quarters of a million dollars through private settlements with such companies, sans attorney), the vast majority of Americas hereby affected appear to have no idea what, if anything, they can do to fix this, let alone what their rights are in situations such as this.
Making matters worse, again, is the fact that for every person who seems to be taking this situation seriously, there are at least five to ten others who appear to have absolutely no appreciation for the seriousness of what has just happened.
Take the following Tweets, for example:
Equifax: “Thank you for your SSN, DOB, and address.” pic.twitter.com/k185zsUIG2
— Zak Keller (@zkeller10) September 8, 2017
I know Equifax are bad and all but at least they aren’t racist
— Mini🇨🇦Modu (@MinModulation) September 8, 2017
I’m not worried about this Equifax thing. I changed my SSN after the OPM hack, and now it has a letter and a special character.
— Matthew Green (@matthew_d_green) September 8, 2017
THIS IS NO TIME FOR JOKES, PEOPLE; THIS IS THE PERSONAL INFO APOCALYPSE
And the scariest part about it is that this was just one of the three biggest credit agencies/consumer reporting agencies that has been breached—just wait until TransUnion and Experian get hit next. And when will happen when they inevitably do? While we can’t know for sure the full extent of the damage that could occur, or what affect such a thing would have on American (or global) society as whole, I can tell you this much: Life, as we know it, would never be the same again. But even so…would anyone really, truly care? As in, would they care enough to actually stand up, fight back, and do something about it, other than smash their touchscreens and keyboards agitatedly while they post their next “outraged” Tweet or their next “shocked” Facebook post?
As I’ve already been informing everyone I can via my own Twitter account today, a Class Action lawsuit has already been filed against Equifax, and while I’m quite sure that more are to come, the sad fact of the matter is that the majority of Americans don’t know what laws apply to situations such as this (FYI, it’s the Fair Credit Reporting Act, as well as laws against insider trading and fraud), what their rights are under such laws, or where to begin, when it comes to filing, say, a Class Action lawsuit against a corporate behemoth such as Equifax. And assuming, for a second, that they did, would they even care enough to do so? Or would they just do what most Americans do when apocalyptic, info-exposing scenarios like this come about and just hope and pray for someone else, like me (who they, by the way, didn’t defend at all as I was defamed by reporter Jacob Carpenter, now of the Houston Chronicle, in a hit-piece he wrote about me for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, regarding my lawsuits against Great Lakes Higher Education Corp, Time Warner Cable, and Alliance Hospitality Management, over their willful violations of the FCRA) will come to their rescue?
AMERICAN APATHY HAS THE POWER TO IMPOVERISH US ALL
Dicitionary.com defines “apathy” as the “absence or suppression of passion, emotion, or excitement”, and I can’t think of a better word to describe what I see when I look at the reaction of most Americans to this extremely intrusive and quite possibly life-destroying data breach. And it is this laid-back, “couldn’t care less”-type attitude that Americans have towards egregious violations of their privacy and Federal Law such as this that is, as I recently stated in a Manifestation Machine press release entitled “Poor People Choose to Be Poor, says ‘Professional Plaintiff’ and Children’s Book Author Cory Groshek”, at the heart of why “poor people are poor”, or why this country is so utterly messed up, when it comes to be people being informed as to what is going on in the world around them.
Look, I’m not going to get “all political” here or try to tie what has happened here with our personal info and Equifax into an argument for or against Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, but I will say this: The same stupid people who voted for a candidate in our last Presidential Election, not because they knew anything about the candidates, really, or about their positions, but simply because “everyone else” was doing the same thing, are the very same people who are now posting light-hearted jokes about this Equifax breach all over social media as I write this. And these people, my friends, are the reason for why America, despite claims that it is the “richest country in the world”, is actually the “most uneducated, ignorant, and, in some cases, outright stupid, when it comes to money” country on the face of the planet. Simply put:
PEOPLE DON’T CARE WHEN HACKERS GET AHOLD OF THEIR INFO, BECAUSE THEY DON’T UNDERSTAND THE DAMAGE THAT CAN BE DONE BY THEM OR THAT IT COULD RUIN THEIR LIVES
And this sickens me; it really does. It sickens me like nothing else, because in the age of the Internet, which much information available to us, with nothing more than a single stroke of a keyboard or a swipe of a fingertip, there is absolutely no excuse for being so ill-informed, so ignorant, so grossly incompetent with regards to matters such as this.
When I was denied employment by Great Lakes Higher Education Corp in February of 2014, based on false information about me contained in a third-party background check run by Verifications, Inc. (now owned by First Advantage/FADV), I didn’t even know what the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) was, let alone what my rights under it were, but you know what? With easy Internet access, like all of us now have available to us, via free Wi-Fi everywhere we go, I found out what the law was and what my rights were very quickly. And lo and behold, by a year later I’d filed not one, but three Class Action lawsuits (on behalf of over 40,000 similarly-situated people, no less) against Great Lakes, Time Warner Cable, and Alliance Hospitality Management, not only to protect my rights, but to defend the rights of countless others who, not unlike the victims of this brand-new Equifax breach, haven’t a damn clue as to the severity of the situation or the impact it would have on this entire country if people like me (what Congress has called “private attorneys general”) were to do what most Americans do in situations like this, which is absolutely nothing.
THE BOTTOM LINE IS THIS
If you are affected by this Equifax breach (which you most likely are) and you find yourself not giving a shit about it, because, for whatever idiotic reason, you mistakenly believe that it doesn’t affect you, or that there’s nothing an extremely intelligent hacker can do with your Social Security Number, credit card information, etc., then you deserve what you get, up to and including the theft of your identity, the takeover of your bank accounts, the use of your credit information to obtain loans, credit cards, and mortgages in your name, the commission of crimes, again, in your name, and the complete and utter destruction of your reputation, both financially and personally.
As I am also quick to point out in most of my blogs that touch anywhere on the subject of success, personal responsibility is the cornerstone of all success, and here, personal responsibility doesn’t just meaning giving enough of a shit to write an angry Tweet; it means giving enough of a shit to actually stand up, fight back, and, if necessary, do what I’ve done multiple times in my life, and file a lawsuit against a company like Equifax that shouldn’t even exist, let alone have access to all of our personal information, which it clearly had no intention of protecting.
So what are you going to do? Are you going to write an angry comment to me about how you really feel about my take on this situation, send me a nasty Tweet @CoryGroshek, or maybe even spend the next day seething over the fact that I care more about most peoples’ personal information’s safety than they do, or are you actually going to take action to protect yourself? Because I can tell you right now that if you won’t, someone else will, and then while you may eventually get a token $20 check as the result of someone else’s Class Action lawsuit, you will never get justice, you will never get vindication, and you will never be made whole for the wrongs that have been done to you personally. And you’ll have to go to sleep at night, every night, for the rest of your life, knowing that it was all because you didn’t actually give a shit.
That said, I end with this, to Equifax: You have f-cked with the wrong “professional plaintiff”, and I’m coming for you.
Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to be here today! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it!
Please leave a comment below and tell us how you feel about this post, or better yet, visit its sister thread in the Manifestation Machine Forum and join the discussion about the topics covered herein. We can’t wait to hear from you, and neither can the millions upon millions of your fellow Mechanics!