Equifax's reputation with consumers has taken a dramatic downturn as it grapples with the backlash from a cyberattack that exposed the information of 143 million people.
Since Equifax disclosed that a cyberattack had compromised the personal information of millions of people, its stock has tumbled. Then there's the fact that three Equifax executives sold shares after the hack was discovered, prompting a letter from members of the Senate Finance Committee demanding answers about the data breach. The Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation to determine whether those executives violated insider trading laws, Bloomberg reported Monday. Consumers have filed a number of lawsuits against the company. And last week, two other company executives suddenly retired.
It all adds up to a lot of bad news for a brand that many consumers previously paid very little attention to.
Equifax's reputation score had fallen to -33 by Monday, meaning 33% more people have heard negative stories about the company than positive ones, according to YouGov BrandIndex, a survey that tracks brand perception.
That is 10 points worse than Chipotle after its food safety crisis and 28 points worse than General Motors after its attempted cover-up of faulty ignition switches, which led to more than 100 deaths. Even in the three days after a video went viral showing a man being violently removed from an overbooked United flight, the airline's YouGov brand score didn't drop as much.
Unlike some of these other crises, as bad as they seemed, not everyone was impacted by them, a YouGov spokesperson told BuzzFeed News in a statement.
"Equifax is on a different scale — much wider and personal," said YouGov. "With its questionable tactics with consumers out of the gate, combined with its hostile relationship with inquiring reporters, it would seem Equifax was as unprepared for handling this crisis as they were for the breach itself."
YouGov said that it will likely take a long time for the company to recover from the data breach crisis.
"Many crisis-impacted brands take a long time to get their perception back going in a positive direction and most never fully recover," they added. "This may take a much longer time than usual for Equifax."
Equifax did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Leticia Miranda is a retail reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Leticia Miranda at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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