On Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, Equifax said it has made changes to address customer complaints since it disclosed a week earlier that it exposed vital data on about 143 million Americans. Equifax has come under fire from members of Congress, state attorneys general, and people who are getting conflicting answers about whether their information was stolen. Equifax is trying again to clarify language about people’s right to sue, and said Monday it has made changes to address customer complaints.
Shortly before Equifax revealed last week that it had been hacked, Fran Rosch got a call. The Symantec executive was vacationing in Maine, visiting his parents, when an Equifax representative telephoned to say sensitive information about 143 million Americans had been put at risk.
Armed with information only a handful of people had at the time, Rosch mobilized the rapid response team at LifeLock, the identity-theft protection service owned by Symantec. This included member services, legal counsel, product development, marketing, and public-relations staff, he said. Rosch knew the company would receive an onslaught of calls and sign-ups in the coming days-far greater than anything it had experienced before. And he was right.
“It was crazy,” Rosch, the executive vice president and general manager of consumer business at Symantec, said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “It has been like an earthquake.”
Since news of the breach, LifeLock has seen six times its usual web traffic and the company is enrolling 10 times as many new customers every hour than before the attack was disclosed. “We’re over 100,000 new members and counting since the breach,” Rosch said. “Most are paying the full price, rather than discounts. It’s a really incredible response from the market.”
The stock price reflects Wall Street’s enthusiasm: Symantec is up about 10 percent since its close last Thursday evening, when the Equifax hack was brought to light.
While much of the traffic to LifeLock’s site is organic, Rosch did say that the company purchased search terms associated with Equifax and the breach. A Google search for “Equifax hack” yields an advertisement for LifeLock at the top of the page.
“When we look back at the biggest breach, that was Anthem,” Rosch said. In the four days after Equifax’s penetration became public, LifeLock’s new sign-ups surpassed by several times the “entire four, five weeks that Anthem was in the press.””This is an unprecedented event,” Rosch said. “It’s a whole different scale.”
New customers signing up as a result of the breach are, on average, 10 years younger than the service’s typical user, he said. They also tend to purchase the premium plan, which runs $29.99 per month, compared with the standard $9.99 monthly plan.
In addition to new customers calling to sign up, existing LifeLock customers are taking to the phones to find out what they should do in the aftermath of the hack. LifeLock updated its website to provide general information on the breach, but has also had to triple the number of phone representatives it usually has to deal with the influx. Customer service representatives who work on other Symantec products, such as Norton AntiVirus, were trained to handle LifeLock calls to provide overflow support, and a third-party customer service partner is also fielding calls.
Though the number of inquiries and sign-ups is skyrocketing, Rosch said LifeLock hasn’t seen a notable increase in users calling to report identity theft and seek identity restoration services. “They know we’re all now watching-vigilant,” Rosch said of the hackers. “They’re going to keep a low profile for a little bit, maybe even for a year, while people have free credit monitoring in place. They’ll strike when we’re not looking.”
In the coming weeks, LifeLock plans to launch a television ad campaign discussing the Equifax breach. “This is a challenge we’ll live with for a long time to come,” Rosch said. “It’s also a great business opportunity for Symantec.”