The Federal Trade Commission has launched an investigation into the data breach at Equifax that impacted 143 million consumers.
According to a news report in Reuters, the move on the part of the FTC to disclose the investigation is rare for the government agency. “The FTC typically does not comment on ongoing investigations,” spokesman Peter Kaplan said in a brief email statement to Reuters. “However, in light of the intense public interest and the potential impact of this matter, I can confirm that FTC staff is investigating the Equifax data breach.”
The data breach, which also included Social Security numbers and other personal and financial information, has sparked outrage among consumers, privacy groups and lawmakers. According to Reuters, Chuck Schumer, a senior Democratic U.S senator in New York, went as far as to compare the Equifax breach to the 2001 Enron scandal, when it was revealed that the energy company had engaged in massive accounting fraud. “It’s one of the most egregious examples of corporate malfeasances since Enron,” Schumer said.
The politician called Equifax’s treatment of consumers following the breach of digital privacy “disgusting.” Schumer also said the CEO of Equifax and its board may need to resign due to the hack. Richard Smith, CEO of the credit scoring company, is slated to testify in front of the U.S. House of Representatives on Oct. 3.
In an op-ed in USA Today, Smith vowed to provide protections to everyone who was impacted by the massive data breach. In his open letter to consumers, Smith described the breach as something that was painful to announce because of the concern and frustration it had created for millions of its customers.
“We apologize to everyone affected,” Smith wrote. “This is the most humbling moment in our 118-year history.” According to the executive, Equifax Security discovered the cyberattack by data hackers on July 29, and admitted it was fair for people to question why it took six weeks to alert the public to the incident.
“Shortly after discovering the intrusion, we engaged a leading cybersecurity firm to conduct an investigation,” said Smith. “At the time, we thought the intrusion was limited. The team, working with Equifax Security personnel, devoted thousands of hours during the following weeks to investigate.”