Wed, 24 Jul 2019

Consumers did not know the full extent of Equifax data breac

By Sheetal Sukhija, Los Angeles News
11 Feb 2018, 09:45 GMT+10

NEW YORK, U.S. - According to fresh documents submitted to lawmakers, it has been revealed that the Equifax data breach had exposed more information that consumers were aware of previously.

The documents revealed that the data breach put more personal information at risk than consumers knew and was revealed by the company last year. 

In September last year, the credit reporting company announced that the personal information of 145.5 million consumers had been compromised in a data breach. 

The company then said that hackers broke into its vaults in mid-May to steal names, social security numbers, dates of birth and other identifying information for 143 million Americans, along with more than 200,000 sets of credit card numbers. 

It said that in some cases, driver's license numbers and credit card numbers too were exposed. 

Equifax also said that some consumers' credit card numbers were among the information exposed, as well as the personal information from thousands of dispute documents.

However, recently disclosed documents submitted to the Senate Banking Committee reveal that a forensic investigation found criminals accessed other information from company records. 

The document were quoted in a report by The Associated Press, which said it received a copy of the papers from Sen. Elizabeth Warren's office.

The documents reportedly showed that information exposed included tax identification numbers, email addresses and phone numbers. 

Further, finer details, such as the expiration dates for credit cards or issuing states for driver's licenses, were also included in the list.

Meanwhile, a report in the Wall Street Journal revealed additional insight from the documents, claiming that Equifax's disclosure, which it did not make directly to consumers, underscores the depth of detail the company keeps on individuals that it may have put at risk. 

It also added to the string of missteps the company has made in recovering from the security debacle. 

In a statement, Equifax spokeswoman Meredith Griffanti said, "In no way did we intend to mislead consumers." 

She said that last year, the company disclosed only the information that affected the greatest number of consumers and wanted to "act with the greatest clarity" in terms of the information provided the committee.

Griffanti added that while the list provided to the committee includes all the potential data points that may have been accessed by criminals, those elements impacted a minimal portion of consumers. 

Further, some data, including passport numbers, were not stolen. 

In its recent statement, the company reiterated that the total number of consumers affected is unchanged.

Griffanti said, "When you are making that kind of announcement, where do you draw the line? If you saw the list we provided the banking finance committee it was pretty exhaustive. We wanted to show them that no stone was left unturned."

Since the hack, the company has replaced its CEO and has spent millions to research and rectify the breach. 

In January this year, Equifax launched a service that allows consumers to lock and unlock their credit report. 

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