After the first five years of forming a business only 44% of companies will continue to thrive. While in some cases this may be the result of poor practice, some businesses become the unfortunate victims of identity theft and are run into the ground.
Credit reporting agency Equifax may be one such company. The agency reported Thursday, September 7 that its customer data had been hacked and the personal information of 143 million Americans stolen.
“The type of information that has been exposed is really sensitive,” said executive director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse Beth Givens. “All in all, this has the potential to be a very harmful breach to those who are affected by it.”
The information stolen by the hackers included social security numbers, birth dates, driver’s licenses, and credit card numbers. In 2016, one in 16 American adults was the victim of identity theft. The list of personal stolen data is potentially detrimental, giving hackers the ability to fabricate identities and file documents in a victim’s name, but also the ability to drain bank accounts.
According to The New York Times, “One man [whose identity had been stolen in the past] said his name had been used to set up a fraudulent company that processed payments made with stolen credit cards.”
Equifax attempted to make it up to their customers by offering those who were the victims of the hacking a free year of credit score monitoring. However, the agency’s lack of efficiency regarding the incident doesn’t help to place them in good light. Equifax waited six weeks before informing their customers of the hack.
To make matters worse, prior to the press release, three of the company’s executives sold off Equifax stock totaling $1.8 million just days after the hack was discovered. However, according to the LA Times, in order for the three executives — Rodolfo Ploder, president of U.S. information solutions Joseph Loughran III, and Chief Financial Officer John Gamble — to be charged with criminal insider-trading, prosecutors would first have to show that the executives were fully aware of the hacking and traded because of it.
“The three executives who sold a small percentage of their Equifax shares on Tuesday, August 1, and Wednesday, August 2, had no knowledge that an intrusion had occurred at the time they sold their shares,” said Equifax spokesperson Ines Gutzmer.
Hours after the agency disclosed information of the hack to the public, Equifax’s stock plummeted 12% and continues to go down. Had the executives waited until after September 7, they would have made $275,000 less.