The Equifax data breach exposed more of consumers’ personal information than the company first disclosed last year, according to documents given to lawmakers.
The credit reporting company announced in September that the personal information of 145.5 million consumers had been compromised in a data breach. It originally said that the information accessed included names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and – in some cases – driver’s license numbers and credit card numbers. It also said some consumers’ credit card numbers were among the information exposed, as well as the personal information from thousands of dispute documents.
However, Atlanta-based Equifax Inc. recently disclosed in a document submitted to the Senate Banking Committee, that a forensic investigation found criminals accessed other information from company records. According to the document, provided to The Associated Press by Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s office, that included tax identification numbers, email addresses and phone numbers. Finer details, such as the expiration dates for credit cards or issuing states for driver’s licenses, were also included in the list.
Equifax’s disclosure, which it has not made directly to consumers, underscores the depth of detail the company keeps on individuals that it may have put at risk. And it adds to the string of missteps the company has made in recovering from the security debacle.
Equifax spokeswoman Meredith Griffanti said that “in no way did we intend to mislead consumers.” The company last year disclosed only the information that affected the greatest number of consumers and wanted to “act with the greatest clarity” in terms of the information provided the committee, she said.
Griffanti also said that while the list provided to the committee includes all the potential data points that may have been accessed by criminals, those elements impacted a minimal portion of consumers. And some data — like passport numbers — were not stolen. The company reiterated that the total number of consumers affected is unchanged.
Equifax waited months to disclose the hack. After it did, anxious consumers experienced jammed phone lines and uninformed company representatives. An Equifax website set up to help people determine their exposure was described as sketchy by security experts and provided inconsistent and unhelpful information to many. The company blamed the online customer help page’s problems on a vendor’s software code after it appeared that it had been hacked as well.