The personal data of up to 44 million British consumers was feared stolen by hackers in a massive cyber attack on Equifax.
The information commissioner said it was investigating how the hack on Equifax, a US credit rating firm, affected UK customers, many of whom will be unaware their data is held by the company.
Equifax and its UK subsidiary companies state on their websites that they represent British clients including BT, Capital One and British Gas.
The Information Commissioner’s Office has urged Equifax to alert affected UK customers as soon as possible, and said it will work with the relevant overseas authorities on behalf of British citizens.
Equifax admitted hackers had exposed the personal data of 143 million customers in the US, which was stolen between mid-May and July this year due to a vulnerability on its website. The hack was not made public until recently.
The stolen information includes names, social security numbers, dates of birth, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license details. It is also thought that around 209,000 credit card numbers were stolen.
Equifax said: “limited personal information” from British and Canadian residents had been compromised.
A spokesman for BT said: “We are aware of the developing story and are monitoring the situation closely. Like many companies in the UK, BT uses Equifax services. We are working on establishing whether this breach has any impact on those services.”
Lenders rely on the information collected by credit bureaus such as Equifax to help them decide whether to approve financing for homes, cars and credit cards.
Equifax chief executive Richard Smith said in a statement “I apologise to consumers and our business customers for the concern and frustration this causes.”
How to check if you are affected – go online to https://trustedidpremier.com/eligibility/eligibility.html and type in your last name and last 6 digits of your social security number and it should tell you if you have been affected by the data breach.
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