If you’ve been watching the news lately, chances are your head is spinning, because there is a LOT going on.
But in all the tumult, you probably heard the words “Equifax” and “hack” for roughly .2 seconds before the press was forced to move on to something else. We’re going to talk a bit about what Equifax is, what the hack means, and if any of it has any effect on note buyers.
What is Equifax?
You’re probably aware that there are three major credit reporting bureaus, though gun to your head, most people probably couldn’t name them.
Equifax is one, and the information they store in order to determine your credit score is substantial. We’re talking everything from names and addresses to social security and drivers license numbers. Essentially, it’s all the information anyone would ever need to steal your identity.
And it affects nearly half the country, which means, yes, probably your data.
About two months prior to the hack, Equifax became aware of a security vulnerability in one of its programs, Apache Struts. Now, this program is fairly common among large businesses, and a patch had been issued for the vulnerability.
Equifax just opted not to apply the patch.
They noticed the data breach on July 29th, but waited an additional day before shutting the application down.
All that added up to one of the largest hacks in history, and the information of millions of Americans being stolen.
What are the Implications and What Can be Done?
It’s important, before anyone panics, to understand that most people have had their data stolen, even prior to this hack. It obnoxious, but it’s nothing new.
Now, as to what can be done, you basically have a single option, other than “wait and see”, which is to freeze your credit. By freezing your credit with the major reporting bureaus, you prevent anyone from using your credit to open new cards or lines of credit in your name.
It means you can’t open any lines of credit either, but hey, small price to pay.
What Does this Mean for Note Buyers?
Probably very little, long term. People still need mortgages, and “sell mortgage note” is still being searched in Google. That said, there may be a small surge in people looking for seller-financed mortgages, which could mean a similar surge in owners carrying back paper and looking for selling real estate notes in a few years.
At the moment, the real effects of this are going ot be felt by consumers who are now having to freeze credit and really watch their scores to ensure nothing is out of the ordinary. The Equifax hack cold hang over the heads of consumers for years to come, and that may have an impact on the market. People who are fighting to rebuild stolen credit are unlikely to buy a home.
As with many of the moving parts in this industry, the effects of the hack may be long reaching and unpredictable. But it is a consideration to keep in the back of your mind going forward.