Things just keep getting worse for Equifax.
Despite being one of the most prominent and successful credit monitoring and credit checking agencies in the world, the company nearly crumbled last year under the weight of public and legal pressure.
That pressure came as a result of a massive data breach that left (what was thought to be) about 143 million consumers affected. But later in the year, in October, the company announced that about 2.5 million more individuals may have been affected, bringing the grand total to a staggering 145.5 million people at risk of digital theft and identity fraud.
Understandably, the situation created a public-relations nightmare that had Equifax managers stepping down, credit-freeze fees being waived, and even legislative discussions taking place about how credit agencies should handle the data they have on file.
The company noted that the breaches last year cost them about $87.5 million, making it a big hit to their bottom line.
But the hits keep coming for Equifax, as they recently announced yet another increase to the total number of affected individuals. New information reveals that an additional 2.4 million people were affected, bringing the new grand total just below 148 million.
Equifax isn’t the first company to find out more about data breaches as time goes in. Its common, as not all the effects of a breach are immediately detectable. Yahoo announced that about one-third of their user base was affected by a data breach in 2013. However, it was later discovered that the breach affected all 3 billion accounts.
Equifax’s breach isn’t just problematic because of the number of affected individuals, but because of what information could’ve been accessed. Credit monitoring agencies are a big target for data thieves, as their servers hold everything from bank information to social security numbers to physical addresses of consumers.
Equifax did announce they’d contact the newly affected individuals and offer free identity-theft protection services and credit monitoring.
However, this hasn’t made the problem go away. Jon Thune, chairman of the U.S. Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, said: “The company should have acted sooner to mitigate the impact on these additional affected consumers. Equifax needs to put consumers first and shouldn’t be trying to clean up its mess in a piecemeal fashion.”
It was also rumored that passport information was stolen, though Equifax has denied this claim.
When the news of the initial breach first broke last year, Equifax faced a number of embarrassing controversies. One of their high-ranking executives was found to have undergraduate and graduate degrees in music based on her LinkedIn profile, with no evidence of training or coursework in the area of data security or IT. Her profile was set to private shortly after, and her last name removed from it.
The company also faced accusations that they could’ve easily corrected the problem beforehand, but negligence was to blame. With news still coming about the breach, it is safe to say some major action will likely result.