Equifax hack worse than previously thought: Biz kissed goodbye to card expiry dates, tax IDs etc

Pwned credit-score biz quietly admits more info lost

Doh image via Shutterstock

Last year, Equifax admitted hackers stole sensitive personal records on 145 million Americans and hundreds of thousands in the UK and Canada.

The outfit already said cyber-crooks "primarily" took names, social security numbers, birth dates, home addresses, credit-score dispute forms, and, in some instances, credit card numbers and driver license numbers. Now the credit-checking giant reckons the intruders snatched even more information from its databases.

According to documents provided by Equifax to the US Senate Banking Committee, and revealed this month by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), the attackers also grabbed taxpayer identification numbers, phone numbers, email addresses, and credit card expiry dates belonging to some Equifax customers.

Like social security numbers, taxpayer ID numbers are useful for fraudsters seeking to steal people's identities or their tax rebates, and the expiry dates are similarly useful for online crooks when linked with credit card numbers and other personal information.


"As your company continues to issue incomplete, confusing and contradictory statements and hide information from Congress and the public, it is clear that five months after the breach was publicly announced, Equifax has yet to answer this simple question in full: what was the precise extent of the breach?" Warren fumed in a missive late last week.

Equifax spokeswoman Meredith Griffanti stressed to The Register today that the extra information snatched by hackers, as revealed by Senator Warren, belonged to "some" Equifax customers. In other words, not everyone had their phone numbers, email addresses, and so on, slurped by crooks – just some. How much is some? Equifax isn't saying, hence Warren's (and everyone else's) growing frustration.

The senator is a cosponsor of the proposed Data Breach Prevention and Compensation Act, which, if passed, would impose computer security regulations on credit reporting agencies, with mandatory fines that would have led to Equifax coughing up $1.5bn for its IT blunder.

Some regulation or punishment is obviously needed.

No senior Equifax executives were fired over the attack – instead the CEO, CSO and CIO were all allowed to retire with multi-million dollar golden parachutes. The US government's Consumer Financial Protection Bureau promised a full investigation into the Equifax affair, and then gave up. On February 7, an open letter [PDF] from 32 senators to the bureau asked why the probe was dropped, and the gang has yet to receive a response. ®

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