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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.

>> Read more trending news

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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Port Authority to boost Arcade improvements, save project $1M

Published: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 2:50 PM

The Dayton Arcade rotunda, perhaps the most recognizable part of the Arcade. FILE
The Dayton Arcade rotunda, perhaps the most recognizable part of the Arcade. FILE

On Monday, the Dayton Montgomery Port Authority Board of Trustees voted to have the Port support the downtown Dayton Arcade development project, agreeing to enter into four ground leases for four component parcels of the Arcade.

The Port will enter into capital lease agreements with four limited liability companies that own the Arcade’s component parcels, said Jerry Brunswick, executive director of the Port Authority.

The support will help save an estimated $1 million in sales taxes on materials used to improve Arcade, Brunswick said.

MOREMiami Valley Hospital buys more land near Austin Landing 

“That’s valuable,” he said.

The trustees voted unanimously to participate in redevelopment of the historic downtown Arcade after a closed executive session lasting more than an hour. The vote took place without public discussion.

Consisting of nine buildings covering more than 330,000 square feet — including structures that go back nearly 120 years — the newly re-developed Arcade is expected to have commercial, retail, educational and residential elements. Key possible tenants such as the University of Dayton and Dayton brewer Warped Wing have expressed interest in a place at the Arcade, as have Boston Stoker and the Dayton Visual Arts Center.

PHOTOSTour the Conagra Brands plant in Troy 

Just last month, the city of Dayton agreed to loan $10 million to the Cross Street Partners-led development partnership that said it now has secured nearly all of the financing it needs for a $95 million rehab of the southern portions of the Arcade.

When the Port Authority owns land, it can offer construction companies and developers several tools to boost construction projects, including a shield from expensive sales taxes on construction materials.

“Our ownership facilitates sales tax exemptions for these properties,” Brunswick said. “That will save them, the project operators, somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 million.

“You can see that as part of the overall source of financing for the project,” he added.

He noted that the resolution trustees approved holds that the Port Authority’s participation is contingent on all the participating entities “coming together.”

“Our board’s approval of this means we’re one step closer — and it’s a significant step closer,” Brunswick said.

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Did Kroger make the list? America’s top 13 favorite grocery stores

Published: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 11:24 AM

Kroger Closing Some North Carolina Stores

Some grocery chain have shoppers who are majorly loyal to their stores.

Marketforce surveyed nearly 13,000 U.S. consumers, and asked them about their grocery shopping habits including brand preference, customer experience and brand awareness. About 48 percent of customers were very satisfied with their customer experience during their last grocery visit, according to the survey.

» TRENDING COVERAGE: 5 surprising ways Kroger is changing stores in 2018

So, what brands rank highest for customer loyalty? These stores came out on top:

1. Publix Super Markets

2. Wegmans

3. Trader Joe’s Market

4. H-E-B

5. ALDI

6. Harris Teeter

7. Hy-vee Food Stores

8. Costco

9. WinCo Foods

10. While Foods Market

11. Fry’s

12. Kroger

13. Target

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NEW DETAILS: Columbus firm could take reins of downtown Dayton project

Published: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 11:30 AM

The Fire Blocks District is centered around the 100 block of East Third Street. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
The Fire Blocks District is centered around the 100 block of East Third Street. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

A Columbus-based company is looking at taking over a project to redevelop of the Fire Blocks District in downtown Dayton, which faces a key deadline this month related to state tax incentives.

Dayton’s city manager and other sources have confirmed with the Dayton Daily News that the Windsor Companies is interested in the project.

Scott Gibson, CEO of the Ellway Group, confirmed there is a group attracted to the project, but declined to identify them.

The Ellway Group owns many buildings in the Fire Blocks District, which is centered around the 100 block of East Third Street.

RELATED: Dayton Fire Blocks District could get new developer

Windsor Companies was behind the renovation of the Vetro Lofts in Italian Village in Columbus.

Windsor bought the building in 2013 in a court auction for $4.3 million and converted its apartments into 35 luxury condos, which are very modern and sleek, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

Units are selling for more than $300,000. The Dispatch identified Alex Dorsey as the principal of Windsor.

In 2013, Windsor purchased a vacant senior housing complex in Hilliard for about $8.3 million, not including the costs of a negotiated settlement with bond investors, according to Columbus Monthly.

The Dayton Daily News has contacted the company and will update the story with its responses.

RELATED: Dayton’s Fire Blocks faces deadline, could lose $4.5M in funds

Time is running out for a project to rehab two of the Fire Blocks buildings: the David (or Huffman Block) building and the Elks building.

In 2016, Ellway Group was awarded about $4.5 million in state historic tax credits to rehab the structures.

But earlier this year, the state told the developers that the project had not made sufficient progress. The state gave developers until the end of this month to prove the project has financing or return the tax credits.

Last week, Downtown Dayton Partnership Executive Director Sandy Gudorf said the Fire Blocks redevelopment plan was being restructured and a new developer was at the table.

Though she declined to identify the company, she said they have the capacity and vision to get the project completed.

CityWide president Brian Heitkamp also confirmed last week that the Fire Blocks project could get “new blood.”

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Construction begins on hotel near Rose Music Center

Published: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 11:05 AM

This rendering shows a typical Tru by Hilton hotel. CONTRIBUTED
This rendering shows a typical Tru by Hilton hotel. CONTRIBUTED

Early construction has begun on a new hotel near the Rose Music Center at The Heights in Huber Heights.

Footers and cement work are in place, said Donnie Jones, Huber Heights assistant city manager.

MOREHospital buys more land near Austin Landing. 

“I think all the ground work is either finished or underway,” Jones said Monday.

A building permit filed with the city of Huber Heights gives the value of the project as $6 million and identifies the contractor as Alpha Construction. The address is 7000 Executive Blvd.

MOREWashington Twp. office building sells for nearly $1M

The hotel will be branded Tru by Hilton. The concept involves smaller, efficiently designed rooms with larger lobbies, approaching 3,000 square feet, offering room for work and games.

Hilton describes Tru as “a brand-new hotel experience from Hilton that’s vibrant, affordable and young-at-heart.”

The site’s developer, LAXMI Hospitality LLC, will construct a multi-story hotel with 88 to 100 rooms, City Manager Rob Schommer told this news outlet last month.

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