Equifax Breach Shows How Ridiculously Complicated Everything Has Become

So now we have a breach of our identities, one that we were powerless to prevent. That?s 143 million of us, including ? as recently confirmed ? yours truly. 143 million identities are now floating around unaccounted for somewhere in cyberspace. All because we were involuntarily enrolled in the systematic surrender of our identities. This is what happens when a society becomes ridiculously complicated. We had no choice in the matter; we?re simply part of this all-encompassing, all-powerful System, that increasingly controls us without so much as our consent.

The magnitude of this breach has yet to be fully appreciated, if it can even be understood. The System-supporting optimists will tell us that we have nothing to fear. All we have to do is put a freeze on our credit ? with all three of the mysterious credit bureaus. Tried that, didn?t work. All three sites are overloaded with millions of people trying to freeze their credit.

Equifax Breach Shows How Ridiculously Complicated Everything Has Become
Equifax Breach Shows How Ridiculously Complicated Everything Has Become

So here?s the deal ? once again ? The System makes a ?mistake?, but each of us will be called upon to fix it individually. What?s more, The System doesn?t and can?t assure us that this won?t happen again. Or what we can do to protect ourselves. It?s simply dismissed as part of the inevitable cost of maintaining the All-Good and All-Powerful System.

Welcome to the Land of Oz

Do you ever get the feeling, here are the 21st Century, that we?re stuck in an eternal repeat of the Wizard of Oz? We do our best to live within the parameters of a complex system that?s dictated by a frightening looking display of smoke and mirrors in a big room, controlled by a little old guy standing behind a curtain.

Are the smoke and mirrors really that frightening? Is the little guy behind the curtain really that smart? We?re all too scared to ask such questions publicly. And maybe more than a little afraid to find out the truth.

But this complexity crisis is very real, and it permeates every corner of our society.

Why things are so Ridiculously Complicated

Years ago, I worked for a mortgage company that had a new and highly dysfunctional computer system. Every attempt to use the system caused repeated delays. And since everything was run through the system, everything was delayed. The system?s official name was MAL, but we all referred to it as ?Malfunction?.

Now this was a large, multi-state bank, that was running millions of transactions per year. How could they possibly tolerate having such a counterproductive computer system?

I asked a member of the IT staff. She told me that the IT department was aware of the shortcomings of the system, and that they were not fixable. But she said that the system would be retained because the bank had spent millions of dollars implementing it. Translation: we were stuck having to make do with a system that was worse than inadequate.

But what really struck me was the reason why the system was so dysfunctional. According to the IT person, the bank was attempting to run too many functions through a single system. She said that some of those functions were fundamentally incompatible. That?s what was causing the freezes and timeouts. The single system simply could not accommodate all that it was asked to do.

That helps to explain why everything today is so ridiculously complicated. Every system, every department, every person is being called upon to accommodate multiple incompatible functions. The outcome is completely predictable: needless complication and system failure.

Equifax must, on one hand, amass deeply personal information on tens of millions of people, disseminate it to millions of system users, and do so without allowing the information to fall into the wrong hands.

That?s too much to ask of any system, no matter how efficient it may be. That describes how virtually every system in our society now works.

The Complexity ?Moat?

We often hear the term sheeple, which is a hybrid of the words ?sheep? and ?people?. It describes how people willingly go along, despite the fact that cooperation is not in their best interest. They?ll allow themselves to be led to the slaughter.

When enough components of a society become sufficiently complex, people eventually give up trying to understand what?s going on. They start to assume that it?s all ?beyond them?. This is how people become sheeple. Everyday activities become beyond comprehension. They simply assume that they lack intelligence or ability, and go along with what leaders and experts tell them to do.

In this way, complexity becomes a moat. We all know how the kings and nobles in Days of Old built moats around their castles to protect them from intruders and invaders. Complication provides a nonphysical moat, that?s every bit as effective as the ones that used to have water and alligators in them.

As best I can tell, use of the word moat in this regard comes from Charles Hugh Smith, who might have first used the term in this capacity in his article Complexity and Collapse. He has since used the term frequently, such as regulatory moat and complexity moat. They are excellent terms used to describe situations that are very real, even if unnoticed.

In the 21st century, it?s common to assume that ridiculously complicated functions and systems are as immutable as air and water. Complexity becomes a moat when no one questions why it?s necessary.

Complication is at the Root of Credit Reporting

The credit bureaus are the perfect example of complication. Many thousands of creditors channel personal information into the bureaus. The information includes:

  • Your name, and different variations of it that have been used
  • Current and previous addresses, or for that matter any addresses that you have been associated with
  • Your Social Security number
  • Credit status, credit history and loan account numbers
  • Legal records (bankruptcies, foreclosures, judgments, etc.)
  • Often your driver?s license number

There?s probably more, but we as the Great Unwashed are not considered worthy of disclosure.

Not only is the information provided by lenders, but it?s also fully accessible by them. They can get it in a matter of seconds.

While this may be very convenient for the lenders, it?s also very advantageous for those that have less than honorable intentions. The fact is, there are hundreds of bits of information about each of us that are floating around in these credit bureaus. That information passes through hundreds of hands each year. There are the people at the credit bureaus, the lenders, and any third parties with whom the information might be shared, legally or otherwise.

That creates a giant, uncontrollable system. There?s too much information contained in the databases to protect it, and too many people have access to it. It?s like a genie that can?t be kept in a bottle.

The only surprise about the Equifax breach is that it hasn?t happened sooner. Or maybe it has, and it was either unreported, under-reported or sugarcoated (that?s the methodology that The System uses these days to assure us that we have nothing to fear but fear itself).

And while all of this happens, you and I have no control over the information assembled about us, let alone who has access to it. Forget about federal laws ? they?re just a smokescreen to make us think that we?re protected, and that we have rights. We don?t.

Complication is Everywhere

The credit bureaus are just one example of how complexity rules the day. But it exists in virtually every corner of our society. Here are some common examples:

Healthcare. Have you read a health insurance policy? Have you ever tried to interpret a hospital bill? I?ll bet you can?t do it. That doesn?t mean you?re an idiot. It just means that health insurance policies and hospital bills are not intended to be understood. What makes it even worse is that we?re never told in advance what the procedure will cost. Apparently we don?t deserve to know. It’s that Great Unwashed thing again.

As a side note, I applied for coverage on the healthcare exchange a couple of years ago. One of the major reasons why we didn?t take the coverage was because the application process was so complicated that I couldn?t get a remote handle on how it would work. But that?s what happens when government designs a program that?s intended to be all things to all people, while still protecting the profits of the people at the top.

The Tax Code. What was once a fairly simple process, now requires complicated computer software to navigate. I won?t spend any time on this one, we all know it to be true.

Derivatives. This is a perfect example of how investing has become dangerously complex and bloated. Warren Buffett has referred to derivatives as financial weapons of mass destruction. Derivatives are paper ?assets? that are based on an underlying asset, like stocks, bonds and commodities, but are not an asset in and of themselves. They?re just more paper promises. You can have $1 billion in paper trading on $10 million worth of the underlying asset, which means you have $990 million of essentially smoke that traders assume to be real.

Various estimates of the amount of derivatives in the world range from tens of trillions to hundreds of trillions of dollars, which is many times larger than the combined economies of all the countries in the world. The very fact that no one can put a dollar amount of the total value of these investments is another example of complexity in motion.

Employment. There was a time, maybe only 20 or so years ago, when you could land just about any job you were qualified to hold. But no more. A major reason is that the job application process has become infinitely more complicated.

Employers are no longer looking for the best applicants. They?re now sifting through your credit report, your criminal background, your motor vehicle records, and even your social media commentary. It?s mostly an attempt to disqualify you. You may be perfectly good at the job that they need filled. But if you have any blemishes in your past, your application won?t even be acknowledged.

The point is, nothing is as simple as it once was. We?re told that this is just the way it is, and there is no other way.

The Coming Complexity Meltdown ? Why This Won?t End Well

Complexity is an indication of a society that?s in the throes of a meltdown. Like that bank that I worked for years ago, complexity hides more fundamental problems. Those problems are not easily overcome, and that?s what creates the need for complexity.

In an attempt to become all things to all people, subsystems and the overarching System itself are becoming unmanageable. This is how a credit bureau giant like Equifax somehow leaks the identities of 143 million people. It simply can?t be stopped.

We?ll continue to tool along dealing with this complexity as best we can. And ironically, it?s our very cooperation that keeps it going. But at some point, the system will begin to hemorrhage. This will be magnified by the fact that the various subsystems ? credit reporting, lending, and financialization ? will go down the drain at roughly the same time. It happened during the meltdown in 2008 ? 2009. I suspect that was just an appetizer before the main course arrives.

Only once we begin to realize, as individuals, that the system cannot be collectively trusted, will we begin to reclaim our own independence and integrity. I have no idea when that will be, but have a strong sense that it?s coming. There?s too much complexity and too many interlocking systems. When the first one falls, it?ll take the rest down with it.

It?s even possible that the Equifax breach is the first domino. This has the potential to disrupt the perceived integrity of the credit reporting industry. That has implications that we can?t even estimate right now.

Minimizing the Effects of Complexity in Your Life

Life today is virtually controlled by a host of systems, under the umbrella of the master system – loosely, The System. At the moment, all things in our society are controlled by that structure. It?s becoming increasingly clear that humanity is no longer in complete control of that construct.

There?s no way to escape the grip of The System and its complexities, short of going ?off the grid? completely. I have no intention of doing that, nor would I ever advocate anyone else doing it. There?s simply too much to give up to justify making that kind of a move.

I also don?t think it?s necessary. It?s often said that all things revert to the mean. Some level of complexity is inherent to human existence. But since we live in a world dominated by systems, complication has become systemic. Although that trend has been marching forward for decades, it?s due for a sharp reversal. After all, whatever the perceived benefits of complexity might be, it is, like everything else, subject to diminishing returns.

I believe we?re already at that point. But I also believe that most systems, no matter how decrepit and dysfunctional, last a lot longer than any of us believe they can. What can we do to minimize systemic complexity in the moment?

The best strategy is to minimize involvement with the System(s)

That means minimizing or eliminating credit usage. That won?t completely remove us from credit databases, but it will minimize how much and how often our information is being shared. Paying small expenses in cash eliminates the paper trail. You can set a cash threshold of $50 or even $100, before breaking out the plastic.

Self-employment is another possible option. That will not only avoid going up against the wall of security checks to get a job, but will also eliminate turning your information (and your life) over to an employer. In most self-employed arrangements, you?re not called upon to provide personal information as a routine matter. Nor are you subject to close supervisory control.

Stepping out of the employment world will also largely eliminate the complexity that?s become a regular part of most jobs, even the simplest. One of the factors that led me to become a freelance blog writer was the ability to simplify my life. And that has certainly been the case.

Keep your investment activities simple. Don?t invest in something just because some schmexpert recommended it. If you don?t understand what it is and what it does, you?ve got no business betting money on it. Always remember that The System is self-reinforcing. It can and does make deception look like the truth.

I also think it?s important to travel light in life. That means living a life without so much stuff. Everything you own increases the complexity of your life, as well as your exposure to the systems that are behind that possession. For example, owning two houses will be twice as complicated as owning one.

Complexity has become the new normal. But it comes at a price. We caught a glimpse of that price with the Equifax breach, but I think there?s more to come. We?ll be well advised to reduce as many points of complexity in our lives as possible. That won?t make the problem go away, but it will minimize the frequency of meltdowns, and possibly even the severity when they do hit.

Safety and security are myths. They?re now compromised by the very systems that we believe are protecting us.

What are your thoughts about the Equifax breach, and do you think that it points to other systems that have become so complicated as to be unmanageable?

( Photo by Visual Content )

36 Responses to Equifax Breach Shows How Ridiculously Complicated Everything Has Become

  1. I thought you were just going to talk about the problems caused by the Equifax hack ( joke)
    Okay, after hearing about this hack, I did my version of checking if I was effected, especially after finding out that that that link to see if you were effected gave the same result even if fake numbers were put in ( like 123456789). I contacted all my creditors and wanted to know what they suggested I do to monitor my account. (I do alerts for any transactions over a certain amount and get a weekly report of account balance). I do the same with banking plus I am resorting to the old fashion hard copy of writing down this in a log. The old fashion version of doing a budget ( keeping an accounting book). More work but after all these years, I really don’t feel like sharing myself, my funds, my credit and identity with someone for their profit. On the same note, I got a notice from the courts of a nuns pro tunc, which I found out was sent out because of changes made to how credit reporting is done and because this falls under clerical error I had to receive it. The timing of that with the hack leads me to think that this was a known factor.
    That comment about programming problems to me just means that companies don’t want to upgrade equipment past usefulness. Think using an old computer that can’t be updated to new software anymore. It basically works but it is slow and doesn’t do everything. Eventually you have to replace the computer and give the old model to salvage for parts..
    Job application and how the company chooses candidates to interview is a problem aggravated by how the companies make the computers filter through the applications. They put in a list of key words, none of which favor key job skills to do job. I feel like all they want in employees is whom they can get at cheapest cost, as labor effects bottom line profit. I could go into a rant about how much they would save by lowering the salary of the CEO but that’s a whole blog but itsel.
    You addressed the issue of trying to figure out healthcare costs as to how complicated it is and the problem of finding out costs before you get handed a bill to pay. Because my daughter studied and is certified as a combo medical/legal technology, I learned partly how to question everything I get sent from my insurance (I have Medicare with a separate drug coverage) . Basically I pay a Medicare insurance cost and drug insurance costs but the program I have evaluates my costs via the Medicare coverage, which I have said before has limits. I have to laugh, they want you to see doctor for services but they limit costs as to how much they will pay and then tell you you have to pay what is left. And thanks to the way the healthcare program works, every January your costs ( out of pocket) goes up. Supposedly I might get a COLA raise in Social Security which may be more than expected raise in my Medicare cost. I had just called my healthcare insurance company yesterday to discuss why I was responsible for cost of a doctor visit and would I be having this same problem of costs since I will be seeing the doctor again next month. Because of the medication I take ( blood pressure and cholesterol) I need to be monitored to make sure that medications are helpful. ( I had to change one because of a reaction (rash) to another. Just an example of how they don’t want you to know costs ahead of time. As I understand it, there’s no standard of cost for services across the whole country. The cost can vary based on what costs make a better profit for the insurance companies even if the services are exactly the same ( like getting a flu shot). I found you have to read over everything with a fine tooth comb and call and talk to both the account department of insurance and the doctor’s office because sometimes it is the wording of claims that pushes costs to us. By being diligent, you can cut costs.
    Like you said–The System is after us little guys, to squeeze pennies out of us–Penny Wise, Dollar Foolish attitude

  2. Hi Maria – The length of your comment and the detail you provided proves my point about complication in everything. The very fact that we have to discuss this shows how convoluted everything has gotten. No one would have trouble finding examples. I know I have to keep separate file folders on every medical claim. And sometimes the people you call at both insurance and the providers don’t know what the heck is going on. It was certainly that way when I called Healthcare.gov. They really didn’t know what was going on. And calls to the credit bureaus don’t even get answered at all. You have to send an email, and they have 30 days to get back to you. By then you’ve forgotten that you contacted them (which I believe is the objective of the delay).

    It shouldn’t be this way. But it is because the “ship is sinking”. Eventually we could reach a point where things get so complicated that we won’t be able to get a benefit. It may be there, but we won’t be able to find it, and no one on the inside will be able to help us get there. I feel like I’m charging at windmills on this subject, but it is a real thing. It’s another of those invisible destructive forces that’s snaking it’s way through our lives causing needless stress and dysfunction.

    Systems were supposed to make life easier, but that’s becoming less true all the time.

  3. See, that’s what ticks me off so much about the breach. It’s not like we could even have *chosen* to give our information to Equifax. They have it, and that’s that. I’m shocked that there aren’t better controls in place for such sensitive information, especially concerning how not-soon Equifax alerted consumers.

  4. When I was in the mortgage business I saw how casually personal information got passed/thrown around. My wife and I got our mortgage through the company I worked for, and it must have passed through at least 11 hands. The potential for it to be compromised is enormous. Now multiply that by all the creditors who have access to the credit bureau and it’s hardly surprising. Of course the fact that they breached the data of 143 million people is downright mind-boggling. We have no choice, and no control on what’s rightfully ours. A friend of mine who worked in IT years ago said no one’s really guarding this stuff. I think he’s right.

  5. Yeah , in a little bit, I am going to have to update the software on my IPhone to the IOS newest version which may eliminate some apps off my phone. I either do it or wait while my phone keeps using up the battery by trying to update unneeded apps . I am not buying a new IPhone while my works fine and will do the same thing as new ones once updated.
    This is what I was referring to with companies using old computers, I will be okay with both my phone and computer for another year. But companies don’t upgrade their technology hardware, Even the White House uses outdated computers, but wastes money on other things. ( Please don’t blame the current president for the outdated computers, as that’s decided by NSA security) Hardware has limits to capacity.

  6. That’s part of why I still have my trusty flip phone. I don’t want to go through the learning curve that a smartphone will require. It means more things to break, and more things to go wrong.

  7. Great piece Kevin. Unfortunately human systems that are young and simple grow mature and bureaucratic. There become so many special interests attached that these systems can hardly be reformed, much less dismantled. Total collapse is inevitable. A good uocoming example is the State of Illinois. With 60,000 public employees drawing $100,000-plus pensions, it cannot be reformed and is unsustainable. A meltdown is coming. Same with the healthcare system when single payer arrives. Many shocks like this are on the horizon.

  8. I’m with you on all of that JWB. I don’t live in Illinois but I’ve been following developments there since I see it as being the first major public entity to fall, before the rest follow. Talk about over-promising! And the state is talking about everything but how to fundamentally fix their problems. Just tape and glue, while thousands of productive people leave the state. That’s a system that’s beyond reform.

  9. This topic is basically too overwhelming to comment on.
    I could go on for hours.
    I do feel the same way. It’s only a matter of time before their is a total meltdown of all these systems. If you pay attention enough it’s fairly obvious.

  10. It was tough to write about in a semi-cohesive way Tim. I was trying to say a lot, but the topic is so broad it’s hard to know where to start and where to stop. I see it everywhere. One the first domino falls – and it may have just happened – it’s hard to see where it will end.

  11. Everything becomes bloated and inefficient over time. Things that worked 20 or 30 years ago do not work anymore.
    The federal government is a prime example of this. It does not work anymore.
    We have seen our best days behind us.
    Everything has become bloated and inefficient.
    From all the things mentioned to many more.
    I worked for a bloated agency. Their we’re so many layers of red tape that getting anything done was impossible.

  12. I remember when George bush started home land security.
    What a joke. That’s what the FBI was suppose to be for.
    First thing I thought. Great another agency that will turn into a black hole of endless wasted tax payer money and bloated waste. That’s exactly what I is.

  13. That’s the basic problem Tim. Each bureaucracy spawns other bureaucracies and they’re all connected. They feed on each other. And as each becomes less efficient, it pulls down the rest. I believe in synergy to a point, but it usually goes to far, straight up to the point of becoming counter-productive. I think that describes the current situation.

  14. Kevin, I have written here before about the various computer craziness at state agencies in Virginia and all the pain that has caused the agencies and the taxpayers. I won’t go into again except to say the State and Northrup-Grummond (they hired a defense contractor whose prior primary business was ship building to do almost all of their IT, duh!) are now involved in a multi-million dollar cross party lawsuit. The State wants out of the contract, claiming substandard work and slow or nondelivery of work. N-G is cross suing the state for breach of contract.
    What gets me is several of the g-d sloppy executives of Equifax used the time between the actual breach and public report to clean up stock wise and are now retiring with golden parachutes.
    Also, to get my credit frozen, I am having to pay money via a CREDIT CARD. I had to give them the very information that was hacked! I still can’t get a freeze on Trans Union. Their site is over-whelmed and is very user unfriendly. The process was simple on Equifax and Experian but quite complicated on Trans Union.
    To hell in a fiery hand cart with all these people! May they have THEIR information hacked and their ID stolen and their accounts drained the way they have allowed ours to be. I still wonder if some insider at Equifax was part of the hack. It would explain a lot.
    Around here, all people are worrying about is Confederate statues and monuments. Talk about a tempest in a tea cup and an issue used to divert attention from the world’s many difficult problems. Maybe we’ll have an earthquake like Mexico and the statues will all coming tumbling down. Problem solved by Mother Nature.

  15. Hi Mary – You hit on something deep with the Confederate statues. While we’re burning with REAL problems, the media and the radical fringe are focused on tearing down memorials, who can use what bathrooms and the fashion statements made by Princess Diana during her brief but glorious time on this earth. We’ve morphed into Zombie Nation! Important crap is happening all around us, while we sleepwalk looking for brains to eat – probably because we can no longer think for ourselves 😉

    As far as the chieftains of The System, this stuff happens precisely because they’re immune to it. Look at congress with healthcare. What do they care that health insurance is utterly unaffordable, and over 30 million people are still going without coverage. The politicians have the best health insurance in the country, and they’re collecting revenue from the millions of poor souls who are being penalized for not being able to afford coverage. If we weren’t so zombied by the media and the culture we might actually get out the pitchforks and demand real change. Another generation would have. But oh yes, they were unsophisticated and didn’t know better “back then”.

  16. HI Kevin. The System….aka The Matrix! That is what is has become. I really liked this article because you mentioned several other areas of complication, like healthcare, employment, taxes, etc. It really added meat to your article because it got me to thinking how very true all of this is. Another one is social security. Have you even tried to figure out their ridiculous formula for how much you’ll receive? And if you do, you can be assured that your answer/payment will be far less than what they come up with. I have been a victim of credit card theft, and it was a nightmare trying to straighten it out. Some companies were great…Zappos was wonderful! One phone call and they took care of it and even explained a lot to me. Sears actually called me and asked if I bought an expensive camera, so that was easy. Others, not so much. I haven’t shopped at Sears in forever. And I agree, living light can help. We bank at one bank, retirement funds in one place, we use credit cards but only three, most of time only one. Pay cash if/when we can, and we also don’t apply for loans anymore at this point in our life…if at all possible. Never say never. And I also agree with JWB, the pension system for many is going to collapse because it is unsustainable. Both my husband and I want to live a simpler, saner life free of drama and chaos. We’ve both had enough of all that in previous lives, and it seems to take forever to get a life back in order.

  17. The Matrix – that’s perfect Bev! Everywhere we turn The System has us in it’s collective tight grip. There is no way out, we dare not think outside the Box – we are their’s! Yeah, that Social Security calculation is an intentional great mystery. Once again, as the Great Unwashed, we’re not worthy to know how it’s done. Nevermind that we fund the system through our taxes, we’re just serfs – it’s now official. Everyone’s whistling past the graveyard on the rising pension crisis, pretending they’ll be happily retired forever.

    My sister-in-law had her Social Security number hacked, and had to create a new identity. It took her more than two years to clean up the mess. She couldn’t get credit or have a bank account while that was happening, and needless to say payroll was a mess. We don’t realize how the system has us teetering on the edge of disaster, all in the name of protecting us. If our lives weren’t so tied to a Soc Sec number and a credit score, none of this would be happening.

  18. Good morning all, I hope been reading the responses while waiting for my IPhone to download the new iOS 11.0 version, which basically may eliminate apps off phone if they are older app plus give you things you may not want, because I am guessing some people want everything in thumb level only, but that?s that problem.
    Speaking of outdated and useless computer programming, maneuvering the healthcare site is horrendous. You can never get the proper information you needs to make an informed decision. I eventually called the individual insurance sites and got a few employees to reluctantly talk about program. They would rather you be dumb and just pick randomly so they can sock it to you financially
    We also her in New York, have some statues being vandalized, that have been up for over a century. My philosophy is if I don?t like a statue, I will just ignore it, as there?s no reason to bother it. Happy news , the city of Yonkers arrested the individual who destroyed the bust of Christopher Columbus with a baseball bat. In the city of New York, the city council president who started the motion to remove the Christopher Columbus statues in the city, was arrested for protesting and disturbance of property in front of Trump Towers. She caused multiple vandalism of both the Christopher Columbus statues plus other statues around the city because they made her uncomfortable and indirectly encouraged vandalism as righteousness.
    Whatever caused the Equifax hack was definitely an inside doing, those 3 executives who ?bailed out? by their sale of stock better hide because there?s a lynch mob developing for them. Sorry to hear about the cost of freezing credit line, but that?s not really the way to go. Unfortunately we have to become more viligent doing our financial transactions even though today?s version is mostly electronic transactions. They may instantly debit the amount but the posting to account is slower and only occurs during business hours of operation, causing gaps in what is viewed as balance and actual balance.
    Stay frosty and focused when it comes to identity and finances.

  19. You’re spot on with the inside job idea with Equifax. I read somewhere that most cases of identity theft are inside jobs. Makes sense when you consider that insiders have regular access to the information. Also, when you have low salaried people handling all that information, there’s a temptation to pick up some extra cash by compromising the data. But still, 143 million identities points to something much bigger, like a fundamental weakness.

    As to the statues, this is more evidence of victim addiction. My life sucks because Joe Blow lived 200 years ago, and I can’t go forward until every trace of his existence is purged from history and memory. Wow, get a life and start living it! There’s nothing more pathetic than someone blaming a dead guy for his troubles.

    This is the world that we live in, and the reality is that we’re going to feel uncomfortable about certain difficult truths and events. We all have to deal with that in some way. Maturity is being able to live at peace with conflict. Life will never be perfect and we can make it worse by trying to pursue “justice” for every ill and slight. At some point, the crusaders for justice become the greater evil.

  20. Through all these things the important thing is to not become a victim. These are real issues. Idenity theft is here to stay. No matter how mad we get it’s not going to change until we can feel like their are some answers.

    I spent an hour talking on the phone this morning with life lock. I went ahead and joined. I know it isn’t 100 percent but it made me feel like I took some control of the situation. All my accounts once you register them are monitored now 24/7
    They do everything you can come up with. I’m not going to get into all the details. Go on their website and check it out.

    It can be expensive depending on what you want. It might not ever stop it but it makes me feel better.

    Thats really the important thing. Things are changing. Adapting to change and taking some control if anything will make you not feel so helpless.

    My point is to not give an endorsment of a company but to encourage everybody to take steps that can help. Kevin did write some steps to take. All decent ones. I did it with banking years ago.

  21. I don’t know about the merits of Lifelock, or any other credit protection products, but I have to agree Tim that it’s important to take some sort of action. To do otherwise is to render us powerless, which we never are. It makes me think of something from Andrew Carnegie, “Inaction breeds doubt and fear, action breeds confidence and courage”. Even if an action plan isn’t perfect or foolproof, at least you’re doing something to deal with the situation at hand. It may even take a series of steps, but that’s much easier to do if you’ve already taken the first one.

  22. I had a decent chat today with them. Nothing is guaranteed. It’s in my opinion a step in the right direction. They don’t claim to be 100 fool proof.
    I felt it was nesessary to try and do something. It gives me a decent piece of mind.

    Are cyber footprint is all over the place out there. If we think it’s not then we are deluding ourselves. It’s not going to go back no matter how much we wish. If we have ever purchased anything online, been on facebook, instgram, etc etc then it’s there. Just by you having this blog it’s out there.

    As far as the other things you mentioned. I’m lucky with health care. I am covered as long as I have the pension. I’m not kidding myself though to think it’s not going to change in my lifetime. I’ll just have to deal with it as it comes up.

    You are totally right when you say everything has become over complicated. It sure has.

  23. So I have a story from today. Talk about over complicated. Here is a classic example. Let’s start with the fact it was 87 today in this city. Which is unheard of for this time of year. It’s been that hot for 2 weeks. This plays into my story here so bare with me.

    My son comes to me at 7:00 am this morning and says his cell phone will not charge. Right away I know that if I pursue this I’m going to have to blow the day off from working. ( I own my own business ) I start out at 9:00 am and visit a local repair shop near my house. There’s a big sign on the window that say’s “We fix all apple products” My son has an I phone 6. The guy puts it on his charger and say’s you are going to have to take this to the apple store. Now mind you the sign says we fix all apple products?

    I head out to the apple store which is 30 miutes away. I have no car air conditioning and the traffic is murder. I finally get to where I’m going and there’s a 45 wait to see a tech guy. So I wait. I finally get called after an hour. He does some fancy testing and say’s ” It’s broke ” no kidding ? It can’t be fixed ?
    He’s does his good soldier for the company routine and offers me a replacment for 300.00 dollars. I tell him no thanks and head out. Another 45 minutes till I get home. Temp is now 85. No A.C. and I’m shot already.

    I have an old I phone5 but it has a cracked screen. So I figure I’ll take it to my orginal place and have him fix the screen. Then I’ll switch the number to that phone. No deal. Sorry we don’t carry that screen. The phone is to old? we fix all apple products though? I know of two other places in the city that fix these things. Battling traffic and heat the first place is closed. Out of business. The next place tells me the same thing. We don’t carry that screen. Even though he has a similar sign as the first store.

    I start calling around now. I finally find a place but it’s a half an hour away. I battle more traffic and heat, finally getting there. I tell him the story about the apple tech. He say’s ” He’s scaming you” they just want you to buy a new phone. They tell that to everybody. He says I’ll fix the I phone 6. The orginal phone. I give it to him and leave. He calls a half an hour later and say’s ” Their is nothing wrong with this phone” it charged fine. Mind you now the apple guy say’s “It’s shot you need a new one”
    I head back. Once I get there I tell him to charge the phone. I wanna see it work. He plugs it in and walla it doesn’t work. Not charging. Then he says “Oh I didn’t check the pins that are in the charging area of the phone. One is bent.

    Now I have driven back and forth 3 times in blazing heat and traffic. Finally at 7:00 pm. 10 hours later. Half a tank of gas and a whole lot of wasted time I have the phone back. The I phone 6. The 5 never got fixed. If I made one more trip out there I would probably be in jail right now. LOL

    You wanna talk about over complcated and useless time wasted on nonsense. That is standard procedure for most things in this world now a days.

  24. I hope you don’t hate me for this Tim, but I was laughing while I read your post. I had a similar crappy day today, which being self-employed, similarly cost me a day’s revenue, which I won’t bore you with, but it made me feel good to know someone else was suffering too today. (I hate suffering alone!) And your detail was comical because it led to about the outcome that I thought it would.

    If it makes you feel better, a wise friend always advised me “If everything is going wrong, sit back, relax and enjoy it, because there’s nothing you can do about it.” After many such days, like today, I’ve come to seriously appreciate the wisdom of that advice. A bad day tends to stay that way – if it doesn’t get worse.

    But getting to the main point you made about the phone and all the empty promises, that’s become typical in our culture. People lie about what they do and can do, and I think they actually believe their own BS. But there’s usually an ulterior motive, like the apple store trying to get you to buy a new phone. Or maybe another repair person tying to squeeze more time and revenue out of you. But the rapid breakdown of equipment is becoming chronic. We’re back to planned obscelescence, where the goal is to either get you into a service package or to buy an upgraded replacement. It’s all designed to get us to spend more money, and to keep the cash registers humming.

    A friend of mine told me to hold onto older washers and dryers and repair them, because they’re better and more serviceable than the ones being made now. I’ve seen that with refrigerators too, though cars do last longer than they did back in the 70s and 80s.

    I think what you were also caught up in today is the “sunk capital” trap. With each failed effort, and the loss of time, you were trying to “save” the situation by going onto the next place, hoping to get a fix. You kept going in an attempt to finally get a solution. I’ve learned to cut my losses early, especially since I’m self-employed, and too much time trying to save bad situations costs too much money.

    But I’m in no position to give you advice, since my day was similar. The difference was that I was trying to put out several fires, and with each one I put out, another sprung up. And now here I am at 10 pm commiserating with you over a day lost to…I’m still not sure what. I hate days like this. I should have known it was coming since yesterday was nearly perfect. I need a lot more of those days, but they’re so much harder to come by.

  25. Funny thing Tim, based on your story, from which I feel the frustration, your problem could have been solved sooner if one of those tech personnel had checked where the charger plugged into the phone. It is a fixable issue and an avoidable ono if you take that extra second to make sure you align the plug in right as tiny as it is there?s a top and bottom to plug. If you had a Apple care program they?ll usually repair phone on site or tell you to leave it for a short period. Sorry to hear that the Apple store you went to was so inconsiderate, you could always make a complaint about the lack of service. I know you feel they were pushing you to buy a new phone but you came to service a phone. Probably the reason you had such a long wait was that the newest version the IPhone 8 came out this week and people were in line to buy.
    I never go to an Apple store without making an appointment because they have lines, whenever time you go.
    May the rest of week be better, tomorrow by me is a Go Without Car Day around my city.

  26. You’re right about the charger Maria. I’m sometimes able to fix those prongs with a surgical type needle-nose pliers, or a tiny screwdriver. It seems that the charging capacity is the problem at least 50% of the time with phones. My kids have found that they can get their old phones to work by playing around with the charger a bit, but never until AFTER they buy a new phone. Of course for them, that’s not a bad outcome. A new smartphone is to Millennials what a new car was to us when we were the same age.

  27. Two of the reasons I avoid Apple products 1. They cost too damn much upfront and are selling, to some degree, based on their being a ‘cool’ brand. 2. Apple products are way too proprietary and therefore, hard to fix and very expensive to do so.
    Tim must be in a similar area to me (Virginia- Mid-Atlantic.) It is too hot for the season (+10 above normal) will be for the coming week. Before that it was chilly!
    And today of all, just as the season is ending my a/c dropped dead! A repairman is coming tomorrow morning on his way into the shop. I live kind of in the boonies and so does the repair guy.

  28. Hi Mary – I’m with you on Apple. at least as far as computers. I still use HPs. They’re much cheaper to buy and to fix. I agree that Apple has become the “cool” gadget. Just look at how often their computers appear on TV shows or movies. It’s virtually the cliche laptop. Not being cool at all, I politely bow out of the Apple line.

    We’re supposed to be back in the 80s on Sat, Sun, Mon and Tues. Sunday is supposed to be near 90, which is easily 20 degrees above normal for this time of year in Northern New England. Can’t wait for fall, best season of the year up here.

  29. LOL
    It was comical Kevin. It really was a simple fix as it turned out that got way over complicated by inept people who basically didn’t feel like doing anything.
    With everyone of these days I learn something.

    I don’t want to tell you about the alleged cell phone protection plan that I am suppose to have thru my business credit card. WE COVER ALL DAMAGE , LOSS or thef etc etc. up to 600 dollars.
    After reading that document which was 5 pages of hoops I would have to jump through and talking to the claims person yesterday. You would have thought I was applying for a National security job at the white house.

    I would have had to become a circus preformer to collect on that. I just hung up after 5 minutes. LOL
    I didn’t expect it to work. I gave it a shot.

  30. I passed on the insurance with the last two phones. I read the gobledy gook at the store, read back my interpretation to the agent, and he confirmed my understanding was correct. Turns out, we’d pay the cost of the phone after two years of coverage – about $600 – but would only be reimbursed for $300 on loss or damage. Not a good deal. Phone insurance used to be solid. We even had a couple of claims way back when. We’d pay $50 and get a brand new phone. But those days are gone, so no insurance for me. We prefer to keep our old phones as a backup.

    Usually by the time they’re lost or broken, it’s time to replace them anyway. You know, that planned obselescence thing.

  31. The sad thing is, I have come to expect exactly what happened yesterday. I really was never mad because it’s exactly what I have come to expect.

    That’s pretty sad.

  32. Same here Tim. I gave up being an optimist long ago. It’s too disappointing. Better to be a pessimist, then be pleasantly surprised when things work out better than we expect. I’m happier that way. I never said I wasn’t weird…

  33. The insurance, all of you are reffering to is the useless one, sold by carriers. When you buy directly from Apple, you can get Apple care which covers all damage to phone. Most times there is no charge.
    On the original topic, we were discussing (Equifax hack) be careful in contacting Equifax as someone has set up a fake site link, if you tried to get there via Twitter, set up by someone just to prove a point.
    I have looked at Lifelook, too, but to get the full benefit, you have to get the most expensive version. I’ll deal with having Lookout Premium Plus which I have on my phone. Coverage is basically the same service minus the dedicated agent and representation. They keep me from going to subpar sitesby giving me warnings. We all have to be on our toes, even Frank Abagnale warns it will easy for scammers if we aren’t vilgiant ourselves.

  34. Maria – I was actually thinking about the scams surrounding the data theft. This is a perfect environment for scammers to prey on people’s fears. I think the best thing to do is to monitor our credit reports closely, and act as soon as something unusual happens. No one can defend our interests better than we can. And I’ve pointed out many times on this site that we’re on our own. The systems that are supposed to be protecting us are the very sources of the trouble.

    One of my concerns with LifeLock and other services is the potential for them to become overwhelmed by a flood of hacks and claims. That means we may not get the protection we were promised. But do what you think you must – just never assume all will be well after you do. This is another example of how complication is making systems unmanageable and unpredictable.

    I hate to sound like such a downer, but this Equifax breach proves the point.

  35. Even though I do have life lock. I still log on a few times a day and look at everything. All three of my credit scores are there as well as a list of inquiries. I am able to see if they go up or down and why.

    I used there e mail service. They basically scan all the potential third party sites that my e mail was attached to and when I hit the opt out service they have they were wiped out off these sites.

    Yes the best plan is 26.00 per month which gives you everything. You also have access to their legal team and up to a million dollars of coverage. It can be pricey but to e it’s worth it.

    I basically look at it as another pair of eyes. It just helps me understand where my information is going. It also notifies me of any transaction that is over 200.00. They send you a text and ask if it was you. If I hit yes then their is no issue. If I hit no they cancel it and investigate where it came from.

    I’m not delusional though to think it can’t be hacked.

    The insurance I was talking about was attached to my business credit card. Not one offered by the carrier. I didn’t pay for it.

    Anyay, nothing is 100 percent safe. They tell you that at life lock. It’s just good to have another pair of eyes. It helps me sleep better at night. LOL

  36. I try to look at it as insurance.

    Similar to life, health, car, home owners. Things you pay but hope you never need.

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