By Nate Valyo, International Business Writer
The recent Equifax hack has reached thousands of citizens in the United Kingdom and Canada, and they have yet to find out.
On September 7, credit rating firm Equifax announced that they were the victims of a massive hack, stating that cybercriminals have stolen information on more than 143 million American citizens, including names, addresses, birth dates, Social Security numbers, and driver’s license numbers.
In a statement, Equifax expressed that the hackers obtained “unauthorized access to limited personal information for certain UK and Canadian residents.” The attack has victimized nearly 400,000 UK citizens and an unspecified number of Canadian citizens. However, they may be unaware of that fact entirely.
Since the breach, Equifax has reached out to worried American citizens, creating a website that allows potential victims to type in their personal information and receive an answer as to whether or not their information was stolen. Equifax has also set up a company helpline to assist American citizens.
The Canadian Equifax homepage, however, merely includes a short statement saying that the company is still investigating the situation. The homepage did provide Canadian citizens a link to a “credit monitoring and identity theft protection product,” which Canadian citizens can purchase for $19.95 Canadian per month ($16.40 US); a service which American citizens can obtain for free.
Interestingly, the Equifax homepage in the UK does not mention the breach. The U.K. Equifax office, however, did release a statement saying that an investigation has shown that personal information for certain U.K. citizens was accessed during the breach. The U.K. office also promised to reach out to affected British citizens and offer them free identity and credit protection services.
Patricio Remon, president of Equifax UK, delivered the statement, saying, “We apologize for this failure to protect UK consumer data… Our immediate focus is to support those affected by this incident and to ensure we make all of the necessary improvements and investments to strengthen our security and processes going forward.”
Both the Canadian and British offices have remained largely silent on the breach, providing citizens in those countries frustratingly minimal assistance. It was only after complaints and calls from worried Canadian and British citizens that investigations were initiated. Meanwhile, American citizens received free assistance, almost immediately.
In an article, BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones wrote, “We [British citizens] have been met with a wall of silence,” and, Equifax “now has to explain why it did not act faster.” The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada stated that Equifax has promised that they will notify Canadians affected by the breach in writing as soon as possible, but they will not be calling concerned citizens.
Several major companies in Canada and the UK use Equifax to perform credit checks. TD and CIBC, headquartered in Canada, as well as British Gas and BT in the UK, are some of Equifax’s largest customers. TD and CIBC both stated they are “closely monitoring the situation.”
Equifax operates in 24 countries around the world. There are currently no reports regarding whether or not citizens of the rest of those countries have been affected by the hack.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, September 26th print edition.
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