Nearly Half of Americans at Risk After Equifax Data Breach

Vulnerable information includes names, birth dates and Social Security numbers

A photo illustration depicts a person typing May 4, 2001 in Denver, CO. Technology (Getty Images)
Getty Images

A massive data breach may have hit roughly 45 percent of the U.S. population, credit information service Equifax warned on Thursday.

The hack — which Equifax said it noticed on July 29 — could affect up to 143 million consumers in the States. (To put that in perspective, the U.S. population now stands at 324 million, according to the Census Bureau.)

Names, Social Security numbers, birthdays, addresses and some driver’s license numbers were all part of the company’s leaked information.

“This is clearly a disappointing event for our company, and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do. I apologize to consumers and our business customers for the concern and frustration this causes,” said CEO Richard F. Smith, in a statement. “We pride ourselves on being a leader in managing and protecting data, and we are conducting a thorough review of our overall security operations.  We also are focused on consumer protection and have developed a comprehensive portfolio of services to support all U.S. consumers, regardless of whether they were impacted by this incident.”

Compounding the leak, 209,000 people had their credit card information compromised, and another 182,000 people had “dispute documents” revealed — relating to any unauthorized transactions. Beyond the 143 million Americans who were hit, an undisclosed amount of customers from the United Kingdom and Canada were affected. Equifax said its working with regulators in those countries to resolve the leaked information.

Equifax has set up a website dedicated to helping worried consumers find out if their information was compromised. They can check it out here, if they want to roll the dice again.

The news scared off some investors, with Equifax’s stock dropping 7 percent after the announcement.