Equifax first come under fire in early September, after a hack in its system jeopardised the safety of 143 million customers' personal information. Social security numbers, addresses, credit card information and more were all made vulnerable during the unprecedented cybersecurity breach. More than 209,000 credit card numbers were stolen, along with almost 190,000 credit dispute files.
CEO Steps Down
CEO Richard Smith will step down from the role he’s held since 2005. He will also give up his post as chairman and remain in an unpaid advising role as the company seeks a new CEO. After the breach, the company’s CSO and CIO retired quickly to appease those affected. But in light of new bills, reforms and plummeting stocks, the situation demanded more.
Previous Knowledge Discovered
Adding to the firestorm surrounding the security breach was the discovery that the credit reporting system waited six weeks before making a public announcement on September 8. Because Equifax failed to update a patch available in March, hackers gained relatively easy access into its system. The public was also unsettled to learn that three senior executives sold almost $1.8 million in stock in the days following their discovery of the breach.
Customers Still Struggling to Get Answers
A customer service website was initially put up to help users assess their status, but many were hesitant to provide sensitive information after Equifax failed to protect their data in the first place. For many, the website couldn’t give a definitive answer; instead, users were given a date at which they could enroll in Equifax's "TrustedID Premier" service. The platform has since been taken down, and an equally unorganised phone line further contributed to a feeling of mass negligence from customers.
"Equifax" became the top trending topic on Twitter following the news of the security breach—and the United States’ FTC took notice, launching an investigation along with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Lawmakers are planning two hearings to assess the situation, and dozens of upset customers have filed lawsuits as their personal data remains compromised.
As Equifax seeks new leadership and continues to dig itself deeper into a customer service quagmire, the company’s future—and the recourse for the 143 million people affected—remains to be seen.