Credit monitoring company Equifax says a breach exposed social security numbers and other data that could affect up to 143 million Americans.
The Atlanta-based company said that that “criminals” exploited a US website application to access files between mid-May and July of this year - with the weakness said to have been discovered at the end of that month.
It said consumers' names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some cases, driver's license numbers were exposed. Credit card numbers for about 209,000 US consumers were also accessed.
The company said hackers also accessed some “limited personal information” from British and Canadian residents.
Equifax said it doesn't believe that any consumers from other countries were affected.
“This is clearly a disappointing event for our company, and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do,” said Equifax chairman and CEO Richard F. Smith.
Equifax is one of three nationwide US credit-reporting companies that track the financial history of citizens. The companies are supplied with data about loans, loan payments and credit cards, as well as information on things such as missed rent and utilities payments, addresses and employer history, which all factor into credit scores.
Consumers can check to see if they may have been affected by the breach by submitting their last name and the last six digits of their social security number. Equifax is mailing notices to people whose credit cards or dispute documents were affected.
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