Lawmakers call for detailed accounting of security systems at Equifax

Key lawmakers yesterday called for detailed accounting of the security systems of Equifax, a leading credit-rating agency, after a hack that gave criminals access to sensitive information of up to 143 million US consumers in a serious breach that  has left lawmakers worried.

In a sternly worded letter top Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee included a list of 13 questions calling for details about the breach.

''The scope and scale of this breach appears to make it one of the largest on record, and the sensitivity of the information compromised may make it the most costly to taxpayers and consumers,'' said the letter, signed by senator Orrin G Hatch (Republican-Utah), chairman of the Finance Committee, and Ron Wyden (Oregon), its ranking Democrat.

The letter also called Equifax a ''critical partner'' with the federal government in the administration of the IRS, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and pointed to the risk of ''irreparable harm'' that could be caused to such programmes by helping criminals use false identities to seek government benefits and tax refunds.

According to commentators, the letter reflected increasing bipartisan concern in Washington over the hack at the Atlanta-based credit-rating agency, which collects personal and financial data on 820 million consumers worldwide.

Meanwhile, over 30 lawsuits have been filed in the US against Equifax Inc after the credit reporting company said personal information of 143 million US citizens might have been compromised in one of the largest hackings ever.

By Sunday at least 25 lawsuits had been filed in federal courts, including at least one accusing the company of securities fraud, according to court records.

Several more lawsuits were filed against Equifax yesterday and many of those raising similar claims will likely be combined into a single, nationwide case, according to commentators.

Equifax disclosed the breach on Thursday, and said it came to know of the hack on 29 July. It added it had put in place procedures intended to help people  protect their Social Security numbers and other identifying information. (See: Three Equifax senior executives sold stock before revelation of breach: report).