FTC Likely Sees Substantial Harm In Equifax Hack

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FTC Likely Sees Substantial Harm In Equifax Hack
By U.S. Government [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Federal Trade Commission announced Thursday it’s investigating the recently revealed hack of sensitive information on 143 million Americans from credit firm Equifax, a move indicating the the regulator suspects substantial harm resulted from the breach.

“The FTC typically does not comment on ongoing investigations,” Peter Kaplan, the agency’s acting director of public affairs, said in a statement. “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.”

Equifax suffered a cybersecurity breach in May that persisted until its discovery in July. By then, hackers stole Social Security numbers, birth dates, and home addresses for 143 million Americans — almost half the U.S. population — and other sensitive data belonging to British and Canadian nationals.

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An unknown number of driver’s license numbers, 209,000 credit card numbers, and 182,000 credit dispute documents were also taken, and a group claiming to be the hackers threaten to release the stolen data online unless they receive $2.6 million in ransom this week. Equifax neglected to alert the public to the hack until Thursday.

It’s a rare occurrence for the FTC — the federal government’s top privacy regulator — to confirm an active investigation at all, but even more so for Acting FTC Chai