It’s the pumpkin spice latte of news updates: Here are some personal finance stories that made waves in September.
Equifax data breach
Consumer credit reporting agency Equifax revealed Sept. 7 that hackers breached its systems and potentially compromised the personal information of 143 million Americans (44% of the U.S. population), including names, birthdates, Social Security and driver’s license numbers. A “limited” number of Canadian and U.K. residents are also affected. There are still many unanswered questions as of this writing, but here’s what we know so far:
- The cyberattack happened sometime mid-May, and Equifax detected it July 29. Hackers exploited a software vulnerability in a widely-used website application called Apache Struts. A software patch was available in March, and Equifax still hasn’t explained why it didn’t remedy the situation immediately. [Wired]
- Nearly two weeks after the initial announcement, Equifax Canada said the data of about 100,000 Canadians was potentially exposed, including names, addresses, social insurance numbers, and in some cases, credit card numbers. The credit bureau will be mailing notices directly to affected individuals outlining the steps they should take. Canada’s privacy commissioner opened an investigation after receiving numerous complaints. [The Canadian Press]
- Three senior Equifax executives sold US$1.8 million in stock days after the breach was discovered. The company denied they had knowledge of the breach before the selloff. [NPR]
- Equifax announced the “retirements” of chief security officer Susan Mauldin and chief information officer David Webb on Sept. 14, followed by CEO Richard Smith on Sept. 26. I feel like there won’t be sheet cake. [New York Times]
- Yes, you should probably be angry about all of this. [CNN]
- How Canadians can protect against identity theft. [Ratehub.ca]
- One reporter’s story of three years in identity theft hell. [Bloomberg]
Canada’s central bank raised its benchmark interest rate for the second time in three months, hiking it from 0.75% to 1% amid a more “self-sustaining economy.” In a statement, the bank said solid employment and wage growth led to “robust” consumer spending, while business investment and exports also improved. In turn, each of the big five banks raised their prime rates.
Mortgage delinquency rates were a low 0.56% at the end of June, but one debt counsellor says that doesn’t tell the whole story. Credit Canada Debt Solutions CEO Laurie Campbell tells the CBC that when people become house poor, many rely on high-interest credit cards to meet their needs. That’s troubling, as Canadians already owe $1.70 for every dollar of disposable income. According to recent surveys, almost half of Canadians are living paycheque to paycheque, and most couldn’t afford a $200 emergency.
As water overtakes fire as the most expensive insurance claims, insurers and homeowners alike are unprepared. The Globe and Mail reports that overland flooding coverage has only been available in the last few years, and many people have been slow to buy coverage.
We collaborated with MoneySense to take the math and guesswork out of comparing dozens of issuers and credit cards to bring you Canada’s best credit cards of 2017.
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Ratehub.ca’s chief marketing officer Kerri-Lynn McAllister and director of product Scott Affleck lent their knowhow to the Elevate Toronto Festival, which aims to showcase Canadian innovation. McAllister moderated a panel on “Blockchain, fintech and the new Canadian industrial revolution,” while Affleck was a panelist on “How packaging positions products for disruption.”