Equifax, an Atlanta-based credit reporting agency, has suffered a data breach that impacted approximately 143 million U.S. consumers, the company said in a prepared statement. The news comes just days after three Equifax senior executives sold company shares worth nearly $1.8 million, Bloomberg reported.
Cybercriminals accessed a variety of Equifax consumer data between mid-May and July, including:
- Birth dates.
- Driver's license numbers.
- Social Security numbers.
In addition, the credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 U.S. consumers and dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers were accessed during the incident, Equifax stated.
Equifax Responds to the Data Breach
Equifax discovered the unauthorized access to its data systems on July 29. The company acted immediately to stop the cyber intrusion, Equifax said, and reported the incident to law enforcement. Furthermore, Equifax stated there is no evidence of unauthorized access to its core consumer or commercial credit reporting databases.
To find out more about the data breach, Equifax has engaged an independent cybersecurity firm to conduct a forensic review of the incident and is working to evaluate the scope of the intrusion and the specific data impacted.
Equifax has established a website to help consumers determine if they were impacted by the incident and sign up for credit file monitoring and identity theft protection. Also, Equifax will send direct mail notices to consumers whose credit card numbers or dispute documents with personal identifying information were affected.
What Does the Equifax Data Breach Mean for US Consumers?
"If you have a credit report, chances are you may be in this breach. The chances are much better than 50 percent," she said.
Meanwhile, Gartner analyst Avivah Litan noted the Equifax data breach may have far-flung effects on the credit reporting system.
"On a scale of 1 to 10, this (incident) is a 10," Litan told BBC News. "It affects the whole credit reporting system in the United States because nobody can recover it, everyone uses the same data."
Equifax has made investments in cybersecurity but will need to do more to prevent data breaches, CEO Richard Smith said in a company statement. The business will conduct "a thorough review of overall security operations," Smith said, to find ways to confront cybersecurity risks daily.
Today, Equifax manages data on more than 820 million consumers and more than 91 million businesses worldwide, along with a database with employee information from more than 7,100 employers, according to the company.