Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Atlanta, GA, United States (4E) – Equifax, Inc., one of the three largest consumer credit reporting agencies in the USA, is downplaying the severity of a massive “cybersecurity incident” in which sensitive personal data from over 143 million of its U.S. clients were stolen by unknown hackers.
In addition, credit card numbers for about 209,000 U.S. consumers and certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 U.S. consumers were accessed.
In a statement, the company said “Criminals exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files.”
It sought to assure its customers and the public that “no evidence of unauthorized access to core consumer or commercial credit reporting databases took place,” a statement derided as deceptive by some cybersecurity experts.
Equifax said the unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July 2017. It said the information accessed primarily includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver’s license numbers in some instances.
Equifax said it also identified unauthorized access to “limited personal information” for certain UK and Canadian residents. It has found no evidence that personal information of consumers in any other country has been impacted.
“This is clearly a disappointing event for our company, and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do,” said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Richard F. Smith.
“I apologize to consumers and our business customers for the concern and frustration this causes.
“We pride ourselves on being a leader in managing and protecting data, and we are conducting a thorough review of our overall security operations. We also are focused on consumer protection and have developed a comprehensive portfolio of services to support all U.S. consumers, regardless of whether they were impacted by this incident.”
Equifax has established a dedicated website (www.equifaxsecurity2017.com) to help consumers determine if their information has been potentially impacted and to sign up for credit file monitoring and identity theft protection.
Equifax has set up a tool to see if a client’s personal information may have been accessed.
Many, however, say the tool doesn’t work. Some got a “no” message while others saw a date for “TrustedID Premier.”
TrustedID Premier includes 3-Bureau credit monitoring of Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit reports; copies of Equifax credit reports; the ability to lock and unlock Equifax credit reports; identity theft insurance; and Internet scanning for Social Security numbers — all complimentary to U.S. consumers for one year.
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