Equifax has disclosed that an additional 2.4 million people were impacted by a massive cybersecurity breach last year, bringing the total to about 148 million people.
The credit reporting agency says that the new consumers were identified during forensic examination of the breach. They were previously unidentified, the company says, because their social security numbers were not stolen.
Their names and some of their driver’s license information was taken, however. According to the company, “in the vast majority of cases, it did not include consumers’ home addresses, or their respective driver’s license states, dates of issuance, or expiration dates.”
Equifax says it will directly notify these 2.4 million newly identified people, “and will offer identity theft protection and credit file monitoring services at no cost to them.”
The company has struggled to rebuild public trust after the revelation of the breach and what is widely perceived as a bungled response.
For example, after the cyberattack, several times the company’s official Twitter account mistakenly directed worried customers to a fake phishing site.
Lawmakers also have been highly critical of the company’s response, and Thursday’s revelation is prompting new scrutiny.
“Some lawmakers say the company has delayed and given only partial responses to questions related to a House Commerce Committee Investigation,” NPR’s Chris Arnold told our Newscast unit. “They are now requesting a briefing from a company Equifax hired to do its own investigation of the breach.”
“Given the sensitive nature of the personal information that was stolen — and the ability of criminals to store and use that information for years to come — we believe that the millions of U.S. consumers whose personal information was compromised in the Equifax data breach should receive the most robust form of credit protection and identity theft services available,” says the letter to Paulino Barros, Equifax’s interim CEO.
As NPR’s Colin Dwyer reported when the breach was first disclosed, “the number of American consumers affected constitutes about 44 percent of the U.S. population.”
But there’s good reason to think that many of those impacted may not be aware of it. A new survey from CreditCards.com found that 50 percent of adults surveyed have not checked their credit scores and reports since the breach.
And “twenty percent of all respondents have heard little or nothing about the Equifax breach, including 46 percent of those aged 18-37,” according to the survey results.
Worried your data has been exposed? NPR’s Yuki Noguchi put together this set of tips for protecting yourself.