A Major Hack Exposes a Glaring Problem with Consumer Lending in the United States

Identity theft is a problem that relatively few people have ever had to deal with, but it is often devastating to those who do. In the space of even a couple of days, criminals can turn a previously perfect credit record into a mess that can take many months or even years to clean up.

One significant reason for the ease with which criminals are sometimes able to do so much harm is simply that lenders and borrowers generally prefer a very streamlined, accessible credit-granting process. From pre-approved credit card offers that arrive in the mail to personal loans extended by banks, obtaining financing of various kinds has never been easier in general.

Recent Developments Highlight a Real Weakness in the System

If it is extremely easy for the average person to obtain a car loan or to finance the purchase of some new furniture, then it will not often be much harder for criminals to do so, as well. That is the reason why the recent Equifax data breach has been of such concern to so many, with nearly a hundred and fifty million Americans having been affected.

The information that criminals gained access to through that hack, in fact, includes more or less everything that is normally required to apply for and obtain a loan. While lenders might sometimes insist on seeing original identifying documents, or at least copies of them, the average process does not involve that kind of attention at all.

Although it has not yet become clear just who gained access to the data or how much information was involved, even the best-case scenarios suggest that many people will now be much more vulnerable to identify theft issues. Should the details that were collected become publicly available, the scale of the danger involved could leap significantly, again.

An Obvious Problem But No Significant Talk of a Solution

Unfortunately, there seems to be relatively little interest in addressing the fundamental, underlying causes of this problem. While keeping personal data protected from hackers must always be a priority, having more secure means of identifying individuals to lenders would help, as well. While it has become more than clear that the age-old reliance on Social Security numbers is a real weakness, few have proposed any concrete means of patching up that hole.