Equifax Inc. or Equifax is originally a credit rating company, that is, the creditworthiness and repayment capacity of a person or company seeking access to consumer credit or insurance .

In North America and some English-speaking countries, this type of “credit bureau” – also called Rating Agencies – is very often charged on behalf of “lenders” to assess the risks of credit default (Francophones speak instead of Client Risk Assessment ).
This company led by Richard Smith realizes nearly $ 3 billion in annual revenue (with $ 6.664 billion of assets reported in 2016 3 ).

Founded in 1899 in Atlanta ( Georgia, USA) as the Retail Credit Company , this private agency has become one of the world leaders in its field. After more than 110 years of business, its headquarters are still located in Atlanta. It is the oldest of the three largest credit reporting agencies in America (with Experian and TransUnion 4 ); these agencies are also known as ” Big Three ” , referring to the Big Brother character ) 5 .

To assess the risk of non-solvency (and other parameters of interest to the trade), Equifax now uses techniques big data , the data stream mining . Equifax collects by analyzing and aggregating information on more than 800 million individual consumers, and more than 88 million businesses around the world (rapidly increasing numbers: “More than 820 million people and more than 91 million people worldwide ). companies “ according to the website of Equifax accessed September 17, 2017 6 ), adding that the company’s database includes data on employees from more than 7100 employers.

In Canada, firms wishing to access a client’s or employee’s records can obtain it quickly, provided they authorize it in advance.

Equifax is a member of the Standard & Poor’s (S & P) 500® 7 Index .

Geographical coverage

Equifax has been operating for more than a century primarily in North America , but is also present in 2017 in Latin America and Europe, and in Africa (via certain subsidiaries); in more than twenty countries, including at least (in 2017): Argentina , Australia , Brazil , Cambodia , Canada , Chile , Costa Rica , Ecuador , El Salvador , Honduras , India , Malaysia , Mexico , New Zealand , Paraguay , Peru ,Portugal, Russia , Saudi Arabia , Singapore , Spain , United Kingdom and Uruguay 6 , 7 .

Number of employees

This number varies according to the sources;

  • 6,900 employees in 2017 according to the company’s profile as presented on the Equifax-Canada 7 website ; .
  • nearly 10,000 employees in 2017 according to other sources that add the number of correspondents (in 2011 there were approximately 6,800 direct employees, and 5,000 external stakeholders 8 ).


While credit has become a tool 9 major industry and local and global commerce, banks and other creditors are investigating whether their clients are trusted. Among others, an American company was created in 1899 under the name Retail Credit Company (RCC) to meet this type of demand. People are they honest and how 10 or defaulters 11 , solvent and in good health, or if they hide things in their bankers or insurers (can we trust the people? Asks Bennet H 1919 12). Soon many companies will want to better know their customers or employees and the risks associated with certain behaviors 13 .

In all major cities banking unions, insurers and American traders then systematize the use of “Credit scoring”; it is this system that has been computerized which now ranks each American according to a three-digit number, which will determine in particular his chances of obtaining an apartment, a car, a house, an insurance or a loan (and which will determine the amount of monthly loan payments). The lower the number (score), the heavier the monthly payments will be and the more likely the file will be rejected) 14 . The score is calculated by an algorithm; it varies from 300 to 850 or from 501 to 990 depending on the formula chosen.

After the First World War (in 1920 ) RCC opened offices in Canada and developed there.

In the years 1930-1940 data from the Retail Credit Company are also used for medical studies (to track more accurately the past patients) 15

In the 1960s , the Retail Credit Company (RCC) became one of the largest Credit Bureaus in the country, holding records on millions of US and Canadian citizens.
The company continues to conduct surveys and reports on credit, including assessing the propensity of individuals to spend and / or go into debt, 16 but increasingly focuses its activities on writing reports to insurance companies (for enable them to assess the customer repayment abilities looking for new insurance policies, including in terms of life insurance , to auto insurance , tofire insurance and medical insurance …).
All major English insurance companies used CCR services to obtain information on their clients’ health, habits, morals, vehicle use and finances. RCC also investigated insurance claimants and produced reports to help employers assess people seeking a new job.
Much of the credit work was done by a subsidiary, Retail Commercial Commercial Agency .

The inquisitorial activities of the Retail Credit Company and its ability to sell private and discriminatory information about individuals to many entities, without asking for permission from those concerned, have been criticized, which have hardened in the 1960s and 1970s even among lawyers and legislators who are concerned about misuse of information collected by rating agencies and produce a law to limit them ( Fair Credit Reporting Act ) 17 ; the criticism was that the company meticulously collected personalized and ” secret  ” files ” 18 ” (…) facts, statistics , inaccuracies and rumors … on virtually all phases of the life of a person, his current and previous occupations, medical and family history, his marital difficulties , his jobs, his school history, his reputation (and that of his parents), his childhood, whether he is sedentary or not, about his sex life, his relationship to alcohol and drugs, his annual income , and its political activities ” 19 , 20 and for more than a century 21 . The company would also rewarded some of his employees to have collected “negative” information about persons 19 .

In 1970 the company decided to move and modernize by creating computer databases with recordings. This is done at the risk of a much wider availability of millions of personal information it already held, which worries some observers and decision-makers. As a result, the US Congress holds hearings that led to the promulgation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act , the first law giving consumers the right to access information about them stored in corporate databases. Now every American citizen (and since Canadian) can know the contents of the file that holds the credit rating agency about it, including itscredit rating .
It was alleged that it was these hearings that prompted the Retail Credit Company to rename itself to Equifax (in 1975 ) to erase that image 19 of “big brother credit” that it could not quite lose 22 .

In the 1990s , the information society emerged . Companies like RCC (and its competitors Dun & Bradstreet and Experian become key players in the financial world .) 23 The company is developing and hoarding and selling this information, including in the form of commercial credit reports for tens of thousands of companies (from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom)
It has progressively reduced its insurance reporting activities and has closed its specialist credit information division (including its comprehensive loss underwriting exchange (CLUE) database as a ChoicePoint in 1997). Scoring is still developing in the United States, in particular to guarantee certain mortgages, by further indebting the poorest, some of whom are turning to “creditors” who lend them money at even higher rates, to that they can pull up their score, a system that will contribute to the 2008 crisis . Donors also use these scores to choose their tenants.

As IT develops around the world, Equifax has for some time offered digital certification services

2001: These certification services are sold to GeoTrust (in September 2001). That same year, Equifax broke away from its control or payment evaluation division, forming a publicly traded company: Certegy , which then (in 2006) acquired Fidelity National Information Services ; Certegy then becomes a subsidiary of Fidelity National Financial through a merged-reverse acquisition operation 24 .

2010: Equifax acquires Anakam , a company specializing in identity verification software , in October 25

2011: Equifax buys October eThority a business intelligence company (BI) based in Charleston , South Carolina. The group associates this new acquisition with TALX (a St. Louis-based Equifax business unit) but retaining its headquarters in Charleston 26 .

Equifax Workforce Solutions is one of 55 companies selected by the US Department of Health and Human Services to work on its website HealthCare.gov 27 .

2017 , In September Equifax announced a massive cyber attack involving tens of millions of US, British and Canadian residents (see details below)


Equifax for most of its existence appears to have primarily worked for the corporate sector, selling them consumer credit and insurance reports and related analyzes for a wide range of economic and industrial sectors. Its clients include retailers , insurance companies, health care providers, but also utilities, government agencies, and banks, credit unions, specialty finance companies, and other financial institutions.

Equifax sells credit reports, analytics, demographics, and software .

Credit reports contain detailed information about personal credit and personal payment history (for example, how they paid for their bills or loan repayments).

Bankers, insurers and other loan and credit providers are expected to use this information to decide what products or services they will offer to their customers and under what conditions.

Equifax also provides commercial credit reports, similar to Dun & Bradstreet , containing financial and non-financial data on businesses of all sizes.

Equifax collects and provides data via the NCTUE (non-credit data exchange system, including the history of consumer payments on telecommunications accounts and various utilities).

Since 1999 Equifax has also been providing services to the consumer credit industry, such as credit fraud and identity theft prevention products. In 2014 Equifax Canada has launched a Web site dedicated to resources available in case of infringement to the protection of Canadian company data 28

Equifax also offers products and services in terms of fraud prevention based on the fingerprint of devices such as ” FraudIQ Authenticate Device ” 29

Equifax (and other credit watchdogs) are required by law to provide US residents with a free credit report every 12 months; The Annualcreditreport.com website incorporates data from US Equifax credit records.

Piracy of 2017

This information may be lacking in perspective, not taking into account recent developments or changing as the event progresses. The title itself may be provisional. Do not hesitate to improve it by making sure to quote your sources .
The last edit for this page was made on November 10, 2017 at 22:37.

Mid 2017, although self-proclaimed specialist in big data , computer security and private data protection , the group was intruded by exploiting a security breach of a Web application , exposing private data some or all of its customers, mostly American and Canadian (potentially $ 143 million) , added British residents (between $ 400,000 and $ 44 million) that would likely never have been affected (the company explained that British records had been kept ” by mistake ” in the United States from 2011 to 2016) .

Unrelated publicized cyberattack, another major security hole would otherwise have easily compromise data 14 000 Argentine customers, Equifax as a web application in Argentina was inadequately secured 30 , 31 . According to Alan Woodward, a Surrey University security expert interviewed by the BBC, a simple basic computer security check should have detected this type of flaw and error ( “This should not happen, and answer that the problem has been settled is not the subject: this poses a huge question mark about Equifax’s use of appropriate online security resources elsewhere ” commented Woodward 31 ) .

The intrusion was discovered on July 29, 2017, but had started as early as May 13, and was only publicly disclosed on September 7, 2017 32 , 33 , 34 , leaving moreover “time for 3 executives to sell their shares before the plummet “commented some observers 35 (On the New York Stock Exchange, the Equifax stock immediately dropped by 13% after this revelation) . The media were thus stolen names, addresses, dates of birth and social security numbers and driver’s license (conventionally used to verify identities) , and approximately 209,000 credit card numbers 35. Similarly, information about conflicts (including personally identifiable information) involving approximately 182,000 US consumers has been stolen or accessed . 36 , 37

In September 2017, Equifax said it had been audited this intrusion via company cybersecurity (Mandiant) 35 .

Many commentators and customers were shocked by the lightheartedness and cynicism of some of the company’s executives: CEO Richard Smith only described the hacking as a “disappointing event ,  and the company offered one year of free for a TrustedID option (guaranteeing temporary protection against identity theft and credit file tracking) to its pirated or potentially pirated American customers, nevertheless enjoining them in the terms of membership not to bring a class action against Equifax 35 , 38 ; but facing the anger of his clients and following a meeting with Eric Schneiderman, Attorney General of the State of New York 39, the agency has modified this contract, providing additional protection (via a random password generator) associated with PINs issued to customers to confirm the subscription 40 .

According to a ” negligence complaint ” filed in the state of California, Equifax had successively experienced smaller security issues in 2013 and 2016.

Finally, Bloomberg revealed that three of Equifax’s bosses had sold a large share of their shares prior to the announcement of the hacking 37 (for nearly a million dollars sold by Equifax CFO John Gamble early August and for $ 584,000 and $ 250,000 sold by the other two 35 ) . Equifax has certified that none of the three had been warned of this computer fault, but, given their hierarchical position in the organization chart of the group, several commentators have supported the hypothesis of a possible insider trading 35 , 37 . (Thirty-six US senators asked that31 ).
According toReuters, some 30 complaints against Equifax have already filed in the space of a few days(between Friday and Tuesday that followed the announcement), paving the way for collective action. New loopholes were subsequently unveiled, causing a further fall in share prices(-20.7% in two sessions, or close to $ 3.5 billion in market capitalization).
Martin Hall, a security researcher for ZDNet, then discovered on the Equifax site a new serious security hole affecting the configuration of credit account tracking(although no form of malicious exploitation has been proven).

Since US law remains deficient in terms of control over the protection of personal data of this type and the control of companies (4 months after the piracy, unable to pursue Equifax, the US Federal State and its Federal Trade Commission have limited themselves to enjoin commit to better protect its customers 41 ) , some American media, like the New York Times , called for a strengthening of sanctions in case of data leakage 35 by citing the example of the European project General Repository on Data Protection ( GDPR ) announced as operational from May 2018.
Some US parliamentarians, such as Orrin Hatch (Republican Chairman of the United States Senate Finance Committee) , demanded a clearer and more accurate chronology of piracy from Equifax.

Maura Healey, Attorney General of Massachusetts , has announced plans to continue Equifax for violation of safety rules that exposed the personal data of more than 143 million US citizens 39 . The attorneys general of New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Illinois had themselves initiated an investigation 39 . On September 15, 2017, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada also announced that it would open its own investigation.

Actions taken by the company

On 7 September 2017, Equifax said it had been the victim of a cyber attack, and deleted its official mobile apps online for iOS , the App Store of Apple and from Google Play 42 . Although these applications were not responsible for this violation, they had security flaws (using the HTTP protocol instead of HTTPS) 43 ; its customers no longer have access to Equifax Mobile .

Equifax has launched a “stand-alone” website where its customers can learn whether they are part of those whose data has been hacked, but to access the site, users had to enter their name and six their social security numbers, which given the circumstances may have put off a significant number of customers. In addition, this site does not seem to give unreliable or random information: people said they had entered their information on the site several times and received different answers regarding their status with respect to the cyberattack. Others have introduced false Social Security numbers as “123456” and have been told that their data were probably affected 44 .

On September 12, Equifax announced it will waive “all security freeze fees for the next 30 days” 45 .

On September 15, 2017, Equifax announced that it had hired Mandiant , a cyber security firm affiliated with FireEye Inc, on August 2 to investigate this cyberintrusion. According to the company, government authorities ( “the attorneys general of the United States” and “other federal regulators”) have been informed of this cyber attack and the investigation is done in close collaboration with the FBI 34 . The director of information systems and the director in charge of security at the agency resigned 46 .

Limitations and criticisms Equifax and more generally to similar agencies

In 2013, the Union des consommateurs du Québec deplored the importance of “scoring” consumers (a bad rating or bad record can unfairly cause a loan application or the activation of a wireless phone line to be rejected. or for example to increase the cost of car insurance – without it being less good driver, and “six months of unemployment can erase 25 years of exemplary conduct” ) 22 . Moreover score depends mainly on the number of already contracted loans, health and human labor that past or not refunds have been made due .. and not really available resources 14. The Consumers Union of Quebec recommends consumers check once a year at least the contents of their credit file at their agency as a study in the US showed that these files often contain errors penalizing 22 . In the United States 47 and Canada or France 48 , Equifax has to correct these errors, but this takes at least a month 22 .

Although not a bank, Equifax has legal access to normally private data through anti- money-laundering laws , 49 but consumer organizations criticize Equifax for selling such information or making inferences. from this information to parties other than banks 22 .

In 2012 according to the American Federation of Commerce 10 to 26% of credit files contained incorrect information. Loans were granted such a bad borrower and in 5% of cases these errors could induce a rise in interest ratescharged to consumers affected 22 .

These American rating agencies, as well as the rating agencies have not seen the crisis of 2008 , and they have also protected neither banks nor consumers against the effects of the subprime crisis . According to the historian Louis Hyman, (author of Debtor Nation 50 ) the indebtedness of American households is not a recent disturbance; it is a manifestation of the “American dream” as developed in the 1950s, even its true raison d’être: to live and buy on credit. His thesis at Harvard was given a book that describes growing complexity of credit instruments offered to the US, which led to the 2008 crisis 51 .

Notes and references

  1. ↑ Balance sheet 2017; NOTICE OF 2017 Annual Meeting and Proxy Statement [ archive ] (PDF, 70p)
  2. ↑ Company Profile | url = ” http://www.equifax.co.uk/about_equifax/profile/en_gb ” ( Archive • Wikiwix • Archive.is • Google • What to do? ) (Accessed 18 September 2017 ) | website = equifax.co.uk | publisher = Equifax | Accessed December 8, 2014 | archiveurl = https://web.archive.org/web/20141225024652/http://www.equifax.co.uk/about_equifax/profile/en_gb  [ archive ] 25 December 2014
  3. ↑ a , b and c in ) ” Equifax Reports Fourth Quarter and Record Full Year 2013 Results ”  [ archive ] , on investor.equifax.com , Equifax (accessed on8 December 2014 )
  4. ↑ D Pridgen, R. Alderman (2008), Consumer Credit and the Law: Credit carryforwards , Westlaw
  5. ↑ Article titled ” How to protect yourself against the theft of your identity  [ archive ] “. posted by The Economist on September 14, 2017, accessed on September 16, 2017
  6. ↑ a and b Company Profile  [ archive ] , accessed September 17, 2017
  7. ↑ a , b and c About Equivax / Profile  [ archive ] en )
  8. ↑ Equifax  [ archive ] on the workday site, accessed September 16, 2017
  9. ↑ Arena J (1996) Framing an ideology of information: retail credit and the mass media, 1910-30 . Media, Culture & Society, 18 (3), 423-445 | extract  [ archive ]
  10. ↑ Crowther S (1928) ` How Honest Are People? ‘ , The Saturday Evening Post 1 September.
  11. ↑ Zimmerman WS (1913) ` Holding” Bad-Country “off the Books’ , System February: 201-3.
  12. ↑ Bennett HC (1919) `Can People be Trusted? ‘ , American Magazine. November: 31
  13. ↑ Joyce, WB (1920) `Human Beings Who Are Good Risks – and Poor Ones’ American Magazine April 37.
  14. ↑ a and b About the Fair Credit Reporting Act and consumer protection in credit scoring in France and the United States [ archive ] posted on 14/07/2009, accessed 17 September 2017; MBDE / Banking and Financial Regulation
  15. ↑ Bradshaw HH Putney FJ & Clerf LH (1941) The fate of patients with bronchiectasis Untreated. Journal of the American Medical Association, 116 (23), 2561-2563 | summary  [ archive ]
  16. ↑ Bucklin LP (1966). Testing propensities to shop . The Journal of Marketing, 22-27 | link / paid article  [ archive ] .
  17. ↑ McNamara Jr., RM (1973) The Fair Credit Reporting Act: A Legislative Overview. J. Pub. L., 22, 67.
  18. ↑ Neier A (1975) Feature: The secret files They keep on you . Scarborough House.
  19. ↑ a , b and c Separating Equifax from fiction [ archive ] , Wired, September 1995, accessed September 13, 2007
  20. ↑ Flinn WA (1959) History of Retail Credit Company: A study in the marketing of information about individuals  [ archive ] (Doctoral dissertation, The Ohio State University)
  21. ↑ See example of information sheet of 1902 p 197, or an example dated 1911 page 199, in William Adams Flinn: WA Flinn (1959). History of Retail Credit Company: a study in the marketing of information about Individuals  [ archive ](Doctoral dissertation, The Ohio State University).
  22. ↑ a , b , c , d , e and f Renaud C (2013) The big brother of Credit  [ archive ] , published by New VAT on st October 201
  23. ↑ Hayes S & L Miller (1994) ` Informed Control: Dun & Bradstreet and the” Information Society “ ‘Media, Culture & Society 16: 117-40.
  24. ↑ See National Information Services Certegy and Fidelity for more information
  25. ^ “Equifax Blog – Equifax Acquires Anakam”. July 17, 2012. Archived after the original on July 17, 2012; viewed September 10, 2017
  26. ↑ Kearney Brendan (2011). ” Equifax local buys eThority: Company to stay, grow in Charleston, founder says “. The Post and Courier, October 4, 2011.
  27. ↑ “Hot seat for stealth website builders; USA Today, st page, October 24, 2013
  28. ↑ Release 27 Feb. 2014: Equifax Canada today launched a new resource website for infringement to data protection ( http://www.equifaxprotect.com/fr-ca/  [ archive ] ) following a recent increased data breaches and pending legislative changes to protect companies that collect and store personal data
  29. ↑ ” FraudIQ Authenticate Device Product Description”  ( archive ) (PDF).
  30. ↑ Sean Hollister (2017) Equifax reportedly used ‘admin’ as password in Argentina;Add Equifax security [ archive ] , published on 13 Sep 2017, accessed on 16 Sep 2017
  31. ↑ a , b and c BBC (2017) Equifax had ‘admin’ as login and password in Argentina [ archive ] , published on September 13, 2017, accessed on 16 Sep 2017
  32. ↑ Equifax (2017-09-07), Rick Smith, Chairman and CEO of Equifax, on Cybersecurity Incident Involving Consumer Data  [ archive ] ., Accessed 2017-09-12
  33. ↑ Haselton Todd (2017-09-07). ” Credit reporting firm Equifax says cybersecurity incident could potentially affect 143 million US consumers  [ archive ] “. cnbc.com. Accessed 2017-09-08.
  34. ↑ a and b ” Equifax Releases Details on Cybersecurity Incident, Announces Personal Changes  [ archive ] “. investor.equifax.com. viewed 2017-09-16.
  35. ↑ a , b , c , d , e , f, and g Larcher, Stephane (2017) Equifax Hacking: 143 Million Pirated Clients and 3 Beneficiaries  [ Archive ] , published on September 08, 2017
  36. ↑ ” Cybersecurity Incident & Important Consumer Information  [ archive ] | Equifax”. Cybersecurity Incident & Important Consumer Information. Viewed 2017-09-07.
  37. ↑ a , b and c Melin, Anders (2017-09-07). ” Three Equifax Managers Sold Out Stock Before Cyber ​​Hack Revealed  [ archive ] “. Bloomberg.com. viewed 2017-09-08
  38. ↑ Stéphane Larcher (2017) Equifax in the … concern [ archive ] , published on September 12, 2017 and accessed on September 16, 2017
  39. ↑ a , b and c Horowitz Julia (2017) Massachusetts will hit first with Equifax state lawsuit over data breach  [ archive ] Money CNN article published September 13, 2017 and consulted 16 September 2017
  40. ↑ FREE (2017) Data theft at Equifax: the climate of uncertainty persists  [ archive ] , FREE-News, accessed September 16, 2017
  41. ↑ David Kravets (2017), FTC launches probe breach Equifax, Warns Consumers about Credit scammersPosing as Equifax employees, crooks are calling to verify your account information  [ archive ] Published September 14, 2017, accessed September 16, 2017
  42. ↑ https://www.fastcompany.com/40466121/equifaxs-app-has-disappeared-from-apples-app-store-and-google-play  [ archive ]
  43. ↑ https://www.fastcompany.com/40468811/heres-why-equifax-yanked-its-apps-from-apple-and-google-last-week  [ archive ]
  44. ↑ Sarah Buhr (2017) PSA: no matter what, Equifax May tell you you’ve been Impacted by the hack [ archive ] posted September 8, 2017, accessed September 16
  45. ↑ Kirsch, Melissa (2017). ” Equifax Is Waiving Their Credit-Freeze Fees for 30 Days “. lifehacker. Posted on September 12, 2017 and accessed on September 16, 2017
  46. ↑ [ Hacking million records in the United States heads to roll at Equifax ] | High-Tech | September 16, 2017, accessed same day
  47. ↑ See Article 611 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which applies to “any information in the consumer’s file” and not only theoretically about human data; The consumer is also entitled to one free copy per year of his file
  48. ↑ Cf. Article 40 of the ” Data Protection Act ” allows the data subject to have his personal data rectified if they are inaccurate
  49. ↑ Paul Gosling (2013) Questions of cash: How Did Big Brother thesis get all details about my daughter? Friday, July 5, 2013
  50. ↑ Louis Hyman, Debtor Nation. The History of America in Red Ink, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2011, 378 p URL: http://www.louishyman.com/bio  [ archive ]
  51. ↑ Delalande, N. ” Indulge yourself! ; The crisis that the United States is going through is all the more serious because its roots are ancient: the historian Louis Hyman shows how indebtedness lodged at the heart of American capitalism during the twentieth century. More than an economic system, it is a true model of society which collapsed with the fall of the subprimes.  ” ( Archive • Wikiwix • Archive.is• Google • What to do? ) (Accessed 18 September 2017 ) ; The life of ideas.

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