Equifax: or, Trust Betrayed

If you want to get a mortgage or an auto loan, let's say,
The lender must feel confident you're likely to repay
And as pert'nent information, to help the bank decide,
Your prior credit history's the best and truest guide.

If you've gotten fifteen credit cards, and fourteen are maxed out,
Or repeated calls about delinquent student loans you flout,
Or a parking ticket went unpaid in 1982,
The bank will sensibly decline to make a loan to you.

The government has authorized three companies — no more —
To collect this information and compute a credit score.
They are regulated by the Fair Reporting Credit Acts:
Experian, TransUnion and — our subject — Equifax.

They know lots of stuff about you that you long ago forgot.
What bills you paid, what jobs you worked, what lawsuits you have brought.
What places you have ever lived, what loans you ever took.
As the Sages warned us, all our deeds are written in a book.

(In China's middle kingdom, there's another clever twist:
Political activity is added to the list.
So if you dare to criticize the leaders of the nation
The pow'rs that be may well reject your mortgage application.)


In March of 2017, the folks at Equifax
Were cautioned that Apache Struts was open to attacks.
But never fear! A patch is here to download and install
And once that's done, the problem's gone: No evil will befall.

The IT group considered that a total waste of time.
It would take a lot of work, and wouldn't help the bottom line.
Installing software updates is but a dreary chore.
On careful thought, it seemed OK the warning to ignore.

In late July the management found out, to its chagrin,
That back around mid May some data thieves had broken in.
One hundred fifty million accounts were compromised.
Perhaps, in retrospect, the IT group was ill-advised.

Names, addresses, SS-numbers, licences, and more
Were now for sale for bargain prices at the dark web store.
There might be something to be said for letting people know.
So they made a news announcement, after fifty days or so.

The management at Equifax was scandalized. They swore
Their simple faith in humankind was shaken to the core.
"We knew that some debts go unpaid, despite the deep disgrace,
But who'd have dreamed that villains would attack our database?"

The management at Equifax was suitably contrite.
They asked the IT team to do their best to make things right.
And therefore, as a signal of their wish for expiation,
They posted a new web page, full of useful information.


In fall of 2017, the outlook's getting bleak.
Another existential threat emerges every week.
Global warming's spawning hurricanes, Korea's lobbing bombs.
The data breach at Equifax just adds to these alarms.

For half of all Americans may some day wake to find
Their whole existence is usurped by hackers of some kind.
And the technocrats will chide us if we get into a snit,
'Cause personal identity is dead. Get over it.


This is part of the collection Verses for the Information Age by Ernest Davis