Equifax, the consumer credit score provider, revealed on Thursday that a data breach by hackers had accessed as many as 143 million US consumers.
The data was accessed between mid-May and July and represents one of the largest data breaches in the United states of America.
Equifax said in a statement that on July 29th it discovered that criminals had exploited a US website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files that included names, Social Security numbers and driver?s licence numbers.
Credit card details of 209,000 US consumers and dispute documents showing personal identifying information of around 182,000 US consumers were also accessed. Information of some UK and Canadian residents was also gained.
The credit score company also said in the statement that it was working with law enforcement agencies and has hired a cyber-security firm to investigate the breach. The investigation is expected to be completed within weeks.
Equifax would not comment any further on the matter, beyond the content of the statement.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) confirmed that they are tracking the situation.
Equifax shares fell nearly 19 percent in after-market trading as investors reacted to possible consequences of the exposure of sensitive data.
Equifax Chief Executive Richard Smith said in a statement: ‘This is clearly a disappointing event for our company, and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do.’ He added that the company is conducting ‘a thorough review of our overall security operations’.
Equifax handles data on more than 820 million consumers and more than 91 million businesses worldwide. It also manages a database with employee information from more than 7,100 employers, according to its website.
Equifax said consumers could check if their information had been impacted at www.equifaxsecurity2017.com