Trust Transparency Deficit at Equifax

September 19, 2017

As has been written in this blog before, trust transparency is associated with a multifold increase in impact, credibility and ultimately satisfaction. When you operate with trust transparency high on your agenda, you tend to win. The converse, though, can lead to major negative consequences, as a story making its way around newsrooms and water coolers attests.

News recently emerged that national credit bureau and scorer Equifax, Inc. had a ‘known’ vulnerability that exposed private information including names and social security information for up to 143 million Americans. Equifax learned about the breach in late July, but the issue apparently started apparently in March, as per a recent Bloomberg story.  Ultimately, and worse for everyone concerned, was the fact that it was only two weeks ago that the company notified its customers. This lack of transparency immediately exacerbated the situation, causing a huge backlash and even more news space. To compound a damning situation, it was then disclosed that during  the gap between when the company found out there was a breach and notifying its customers, executives sold nearly $2 million worth of company stock instigating more fanfare and a political commentary as Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat who sits on the Senate Banking Committee, called the news, ‘disturbing’.

Equifax made a bad situation worse, making a free offer as amends, using such confusing language that it appeared that those taking up the offer were giving up their rights to ultimately sue the company, which created another, more virulent social media backlash. It certainly was not lost in the situation that ironically, the entire credit score system relies on trust transparency, and this domino breaching of the public trust, dominated the headlines rather than what might have been a legitimate, effective crisis response strategy.

So, in this battle to operate transparently and regain trust, as Bloomberg noted, in a showdown between a big company and social media, the big company blinked.

As of September 12, Equifax is facing 30 lawsuits. Was it trying to pull a fast one and head off class action? Did the executives who sold $1.8M in stock really not know about the breach when they sold? At some point, those details might not matter as one measures the trust deficiency consumers now have in the company. CNBC describes what really went wrong for Equifax  as a classic example of the response being part of the problem, describing it as “Equifax breach response turns dumpster fire”. The company’s stock is down 20% since the announcement, despite it actually doing several things right. Fundamentally though, the company obviously refused to be ‘clear-eyed about weaknesses and vulnerabilities’ (transparent to itself and to outsiders), and the loss of trust through this entire process will impact not only Equifax, but the entire category moving forward.


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Lori Diez

Lori Diez combines compassion and excellence to lead organizations to their next level. A small-town Texas childhood taught her the value of hard work and relationships, which she uses to foster teamwork that brings results that have transformed cultures and programs to their highest potential. Her successful career in pharmaceutical and nutraceutical sales leadership and event hosting has prepared her to deliver results as the COO of TrustTransparency, where she uses her industry knowledge to ensure that the company’s operations run smoothly as they support nutraceutical companies in their mission to help others. Lori’s passion for charity reflects her belief that individuals working together can change the world, no matter how small their contribution to the effort. This year, she looks forward to continuing over a decade of service at the Houston Livestock Show And Rodeo, where she will be the Chairman of the Livestock Committee.

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Glynnda Steinford, Trust Transparency Consulting’s Director of Customer Relations, brings over four decades of healthcare experience to her vital role in client engagement and relationship building. Her diverse background spans from administering medical groups to impactful stints in pharmaceutical and nutraceutical sales, all underlined by her degree in Healthcare Administration.

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Caiti Dowden stands as a crucial pillar at Trust Transparency Consulting, bringing invaluable insight and expertise to her role as Senior Executive Assistant’ since her start in 2018. With an academic background from Sam Houston University and a career shift from education to the nutraceutical sphere in 2010, Caiti has cultivated a sharp acumen for dissecting industry trends and bolstering strategic decision-making.

Her transition from Data Analyst reflects her growth and deep understanding of the business landscape. Caiti’s commitment goes beyond professional excellence; she thrives on balance, drawing from her rich life outside of work to enhance her organizational contributions. Whether it’s family time, volunteering, or rooting for Houston’s sports teams, she believes in embracing experiences to fuel her professional creativity and insight.

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Scott Steinford, a trailblazer in strategic leadership, boasts a certified M&A background, having navigated companies from their genesis to industry prominence. His brainchild, Trust Transparency Consulting, born in 2007, stands as a testament to his dedication to ethical business practices and strategic foresight, offering industry stakeholders invaluable guidance.

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Notably, Scott’s influence is a driving force in the CoQ10 market, where his leadership has significantly bolstered the ingredient’s global presence. His roles in various capacities, including as a New Hope Ambassador, keep the community informed, providing in-depth industry reports and insights.

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