If you have the misfortune of dealing with US Fuckancial orifice Insertions (Financial Institutions) you’ve probably heard of the Equifax hack. Equifax is one of three large companies in the US that collect, without your explicit approval, personal credit information to compute credit scores. Your credit score is a single number that allegedly measures how likely you are to pay back loans. Credit scores are no longer used just for assessing creditworthiness. They’ve slowly become proxies for literacy, intelligence, and honesty. In today’s USA, it is illegal in many states to test a job applicant’s literacy or IQ. In others, you cannot ask if they have a criminal record. Fortunately, for HR drones everywhere, there are no laws barring credit score enquiries. Oh sure, you can refuse to allow a potential employer to look up your score but if you want the damn job you’re more or less forced to bend over and enjoy a scoring.
I first met credit scores in the 1990s. After two decades of living in Canada, I returned to the US for a job. In the early 1990s few companies requested credit scores on job applications but if you tried to rent an apartment the first thing they asked for was a credit score. I didn’t have one at the time and this turned out to be a major problem. I calmly explained that I had lived outside the US for my entire working life and had never taken out a US loan, used a US credit card, or secured US credit of any form. I was an alien freak, possibly dangerous, and certainly, someone to be wary of.
My situation wasn’t unique. In the 1990s large numbers of American immigrants, both legal and illegal didn’t have credit scores but, how can I delicately phrase this, their predominantly dusky hues forestalled aggressive credit score seeking by lawsuit averse bottom feeders. My hue didn’t help. My status as an educated, articulate, white guy without a credit score was an unfathomable anomaly to the simpletons that process apartment applications. I eventually straightened this out but I had to get a letter from my employer that disclosed my salary and, even then, the simpletons had to phone my employer’s HR department to make sure I wasn’t trying to soil a sacred one bedroom dump with my unscored person. The entire episode pissed me off.
Who allowed large, clearly inept, credit agencies to collect detailed personal information on pretty much every person in the US? Even worse, what bit of arcane intellectual property law, gives credit agencies the right to apply, “proprietary” – meaning opaque undisclosed bullshit – algorithms to their pilfered information to compute an index that nobody outside the agencies can vet for accuracy or relevance? Finally, who continues to tolerate their criminally negligent handling of sensitive data? I would be willing to bet big bucks that the EquiFucks didn’t even encrypt the data that was hacked. I work with corporate databases and you would be surprised at how often things like Social Security Numbers are stored in plaintext. Meaning any disgruntled ITer, and there are a lot of bitter disgruntled ITers, could easily replicate the Equifax hack.
The EquiFucks know they are in deep dodo. Three company executives conveniently unloaded company stock after discovering, but before disclosing the hack, and today the CEO “voluntarily retired.” I know it looks like they’re pulling the ripcords on their golden parachutes but I’m sure it’s all as innocent and kosher as unleavened bread. The EquiFuck is so bad that the traditional stern admonishment to never do it again followed by sizeable donations to political accomplices probably won’t cut it this time. I better see some perps in prison.
Sending EquiFucks to prison, while gratifying – their agony will be delicious – won’t fix the real problem which is the collection of immutable identifiers like Social Security Numbers. I’ve raged about the idiocy of Social Security Numbers before and until we move to a proper private and public key based identification system EquiFucks will just keep happening. I could care less if the EquiFucks of the world store my public key. Without my private key, which I, and only I know, it cannot be used to find shit. Of course, this will destroy the business model of financial predators like credit score companies but, paraphrasing Mao, you’ve got a break a few eggs now and then.