Update: Equifax issued an apology Friday evening for the confusion. ""We understand that some consumers are experiencing difficulties getting the answers and support they need through our website and call center. Ramping up the website and call center to handle the anticipated volume is ongoing and we are focused on making improvements as quickly as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience this process has created," the company said.
After learning that the sensitive information of nearly half of the American population may have been compromised in the massive Equifax breach, customers raced to find out whether their data may be affected. And what some found was a frustrating experience.
For consumers who wanted to check if their information had been compromised, Equifax suggested that they visit its new site, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, where they could learn if they had been “potentially impacted” and could sign up for credit monitoring services.
But when consumers went to the page, some suspicion and confusion ensued.
Consumers who signed up at the website encountered a multistep process that never led to a definitive answer as to whether their personal data had been accessed by hackers.
First, consumers were prompted to enter their last name and the last six digits of their Social Security number. People then reported getting one of two responses. Consumers who Equifax determined possibly were affected got a message that said, "Based on the information provided, we believe that your personal information may have been impacted by this incident." That same message suggested that consumers then enroll in Equifax's theft protection and credit monitoring product, called TrustedID Premier.
After users clicked "Enroll," the next message gave consumers an enrollment date for when they could complete the sign-up process for the TrustedID product. Enrollment dates varied from person to person, however. “The enrollment process is scheduled over several days to minimize delays and to service all consumers efficiently,” the Equifax website says.
But even for these consumers, Equifax did not disclose whether their information had been accessed by hackers. Many took issue with Equifax's suggestion that they sign up for its credit monitoring service after the company just disclosed that it had been breached by intruders. And others expressed exasperation that Equifax did not provide clear answers about their sensitive information.
Some people called Equifax and received inconclusive responses, or none at all.
Equifax told consumers interested in signing up for the credit monitoring service to return to the website on or after their enrollment date. Then they could follow the instructions to enroll in the TrustedID product. Enrollment ends Nov. 21, according to Equifax.
For another subset of people, filling in the online form produced a clearer answer. Consumers who Equifax determined were not affected by the data breach received this message during the enrollment process: "Based on the information provided, we believe that your personal information was not impacted by this incident.”