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The payments industry may have been under the impression that the steady drip of data breaches over the past few years has left U.S. consumers in a state of battle fatigue, where the cycle of hacking, recriminations and credential reissuance has become almost circadian. Indeed, it may have been the expectation of a cowed and apathetic public that partly led to Equifax’s inept disaster response after its data breach was finally made public.

However, this industry perception of how consumers react to loss of PII and consequent identity theft may be a case of chronically misguided “group-think” that completely underestimates the degree of discomfort that consumers have with the specifics of their identities being captured and traded without their knowledge or explicit consent. The Equifax breach may well be a point of reckoning, where identity brokers and those that rely on them come to realize just how much public antipathy there is to their core business model, resulting in a drastic change in the way that PII is used in future.