Embattled finance firm Equifax is facing fresh criticism from the Chairman of the UK’s Treasury Committee after it emerged that millions of UK residents’ data may have been compromised in the company’s international data debacle. Nicky Morgan MP has written to the Chief Executive of Equifax – currently interim Paulino do Rego Barros Jr – asking for more details on the breach and what compensation those affected can expect.
And it’s entirely likely that Equifax faces sanctions from the UK. The remit of the House of Commons Treasury Committee (its official title) is to examine the running of HM Treasury and its arms, including regulatory bodies such as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Prudential Regulation Authority. Indeed, it has emerged that Morgan has also written to Andrew Bailey, Chief Executive of the FCA, for his assessment on the breach and whether the FCA is considering further action. Equifax’s UK businesses is authorised and monitored by the FCA.
The debacle began on September 7th when the US credit monolith admitted to an information data breach discovered five weeks earlier on July 29th. The incident affected 143 million Americans, and questions quickly arose whether the fallout would spread across the UK. Shortly after, on September 17th, Equifax admitted that 400,000 Brits were also affected by the breach, but earlier this week revised that figure to over 15 million.
Equifax has now conceded that a file containing 15.2 million UK records dating from 2011 to 2016 was compromised in the cyber-hack. However, the firm also claims that most of the information in the log is duplicate or test data, and estimates that more realistically around 700,000 UK residents have had their data exposed.
An article published by DIGIT at the time of the larger groundswell surrounding the firm detailed how Equifax has fumbled its response to the breach in every manner. A dedicated website was criticised for unclear terms and conditions – which led some to believe that in signing up for future protection they waived their rights to sue – while its phone line appeared understaffed to incensed callers. It appears that they have continued in this trend, when at the start of the month, former CEO Richard Smith blamed the entire – months long – breach on one single IT engineer.
Unfortunately, the root of the problem is that ‘customers’ – UK and US – have little choice about dealing with Equifax. The giant soaks up and exchanges data between third party services, allowing it to check the credit scores of more potential customers when they come. As a result, hundreds of millions of people have been sucked into the colossal sandpit that is the Equifax hack.