Equifax to offer free credit freezes for life, new CEO says

Published: Thursday, September 28, 2017 @ 3:42 PM

143 Million Could Be Affected by Equifax Data Breach

Equifax’s new interim chief executive said the company is planning to offer a new life-long credit freeze service for free by the end of January.

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Paulino do Rego Barros Jr., who was named the company’s new CEO on Tuesday, announced that move Thursday, along with other efforts to improve its problem-plagued response to a massive data theft affecting 143 million Americans.

“On behalf of Equifax, I want to express my sincere and total apology to every consumer affected by our recent data breach,” Barros said in an op-ed that appeared in the Wall Street Journal. “People across the country and around the world, including our friends and family members, put their trust in our company. We didn’t live up to expectations.” 

According to a news report, Barros’ op-ed was not initially available on Equifax’s website on the security breach, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, but the site now has a link to it.

>> Related: Equifax apologizes for sending people to fake company website

In a move that could put pressure on the other two major credit bureaus, Experian and TransUnion, to offer similar life-long freezes, Barros said Equifax plans to offer a free service by Jan. 31 that will “let consumers easily lock and unlock access to their Equifax credit files. You will be able to do this at will.”

With the service, he said, “the cybercrime business will become a lot more difficult.”

Equifax’s efforts come as the Atlanta credit-tracking firm faces a storm surge of investigations, lawsuits and consumer complaints about its handling of the hacking scandal, one of the worst any company in the U.S. has faced.

Next week, former Equifax CEO Rick Smith is expected to be grilled before Senate and House committees looking into the breach.

>> Related: Report: Equifax hacked months earlier than previously admitted

Some lawmakers are calling for “clawbacks” of Equifax executives’ pay. Smith, who retired Tuesday, leaves the company with at least $48.9 million in stock awards and benefits accumulated during his 12-year tenure at the company.

Barros said the company is also extending the deadlines to the end of January for the free credit freezes and credit monitoring services it offered in the wake of the hacking incident. The company initially set up a one-month sign-up window after the data theft was disclosed on Sept. 7.

>> Related: Clark Howard: 10 things you need to know about the Equifax data breach

Afterwards, panicked consumers swamped Equifax's call center and website. Many said they weren't able to sign up, or Equifax's employees couldn't answer some questions. Thursday, Equifax's website indicated the problems continue.

“We are currently experiencing difficulties with our TrustedID website. As a result, the site may be unavailable periodically, and we are working hard to help reduce interruptions,” the company said on its website.

Barros said the company is working on fixing its website and adding more call center employees and additional training.

“We have to see this breach as a turning point — not just for Equifax, but for everyone interested in protecting personal data,” he said.

This Saturday, July 21, 2012, photo shows the Equifax Inc. headquarters in Atlanta. On Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, credit reporting agency Equifax ousted CEO Richard Smith in an effort to clean up the mess left by a damaging data breach that exposed highly sensitive information about 143 million Americans. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)(Mike Stewart/AP)
 

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Report: Winn-Dixie owner preparing for bankruptcy, up to 200 stores could close

Published: Saturday, February 17, 2018 @ 3:23 PM

Bi-Lo, Owner of Winn-Dixie, Reportedly Preparing For Bankruptcy

Winn-Dixie owner Bi-Lo is preparing for bankruptcy, according to a Bloomberg report.

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Up to 200 stores could close as part of a bankruptcy filing, Bloomberg reported. According to Winn-Dixie's website, the retailer has locations in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.

The bankruptcy filing could come as early as next month, Bloomberg reported. 

Bi-Lo has not publicly confirmed any bankruptcy plans.

Traditional grocery stores have faced increased competition from online retailers like Amazon.

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Gun manufacturer Remington to file for bankruptcy

Published: Monday, February 12, 2018 @ 3:57 PM

Bankruptcy Filed by Gun Manufacturer Remington

The Remington Outdoor Company, one of America’s largest firearm and ammunition manufacturers, plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after reaching a deal Monday with its creditors, according to multiple reports.

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Company officials said in a news release that a prepackaged reorganization plan will be filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. The deal will give control of the company to its lenders, Bloomberg News reported.

Remington seeks to lower its $950 million debt load, Reuters reported. The company’s executive chairman, Jim Geisler, said in a statement that “difficult industry conditions make today’s agreement prudent.”

“I am confident this regrouping ensures that Remington will continue as both a strong company and an indelible part of our national heritage,” he said.

Officials with Remington, the maker of the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle used in the Connecticut shooting that left 20 first-graders and six educators dead in 2012, said the agreement with lenders will reduce its debt by about $700 million and add about $145 million in new capital.

The company was cleared of any wrongdoing in the 2012 shooting, but investors repulsed by the massacres distanced themselves from the company's owner, investment firm Cerberus Capital Management.

The company’s debtors include JPMorgan Asset Management and Franklin Templeton Investments, Reuters reported. They will trade their debt holdings for equity in Remington as part of the deal unveiled Monday.

A bankruptcy filing under Chapter 11 allows a company to reorganize and stay in business as the company works to repay debtors. Officials with Remington said in a news release Monday that the company will continue to operate as normal as the restructuring process gets underway.

“Importantly, the fundamentals of our core business remain strong,” Reminton CEO Anthony Acitelli said in a statement. “We have an outstanding collection of brands and products, the unqualified support of a vibrant community across the industry and a deep and powerful culture. We will emerge from this process with a deleveraged balance sheet and ample liquidity, positioning Remington to compete more aggressively and to seize future growth opportunities.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Caught on camera: Uncovered raw meat transported in shopping carts to supermarket

Published: Saturday, January 27, 2018 @ 4:02 PM

WATCH: Uncovered Raw Meat In Shopping Carts Transported Into Supermarket

A California supermarket is facing backlash after a shopper captured a disturbing image.

Loretto Seto took the photo Thursday outside of 99 Ranch Market in San Jose. She was shocked to find slabs of uncovered raw meat being wheeled into the store in Costco shopping carts.

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She posted the photo on Facebook to warn shoppers about the meat at 99 Ranch Market and the potentially contaminated Costco shopping carts. The image caught the attention of local health officials, who are now investigating the incident, The Modesto Bee reported.

A 99 Ranch Market representative replied to Seto on Facebook, saying that an internal investigation had been opened and the meat in question had been discarded. The representative said that the men in the photo were not supermarket employees, but workers from the supermarket’s meat vendor, Jim's Farm Meat Co. Inc. The workers have been fired, The Modesto Bee reported.

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Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase to partner on U.S. employee health care

Published: Tuesday, January 30, 2018 @ 8:09 AM

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Amazon

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced they will create a health care company for their U.S. employees that is "free from profit-making incentives."

The companies say they are partnering on health care to increase employee satisfaction and reduce costs. 

The trio of companies will work with an independent company that is free from the constraints of profit-making incentives. 

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The initial focus of the new company will be on technology that will provide their employees with high-quality, reasonably priced health care.

“The ballooning costs of health care act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy. Our group does not come to this problem with answers. But we also do not accept it as inevitable. Rather, we share the belief that putting our collective resources behind the country’s best talent can, in time, check the rise in health costs while concurrently enhancing patient satisfaction and outcomes,” said Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett.

“The health care system is complex, and we enter into this challenge open-eyed about the degree of difficulty,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. “Hard as it might be, reducing health care’s burden on the economy while improving outcomes for employees and their families would be worth the effort. Success is going to require talented experts, a beginner’s mind, and a long-term orientation.”

The company is in the initial planning stages.

– The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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