(RNN) – Equifax, which monitors credit, said Thursday a security breach could potentially affect 143 million U.S. customers. The breach represents 57 percent of the nation's population.
In a news release, the company said “criminals exploited a web application” to gain access to files that include names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and some driver’s license numbers; 209,000 credit card numbers and personal ID information on 182,000 consumers were accessed by the hackers.
Limited information for Canadian and United Kingdom citizens was also affected in the breach.
Equifax discovered the breach on July 29 and immediately stopped the hack. The company hired a cybersecurity firm to review the intrusion and what data was stolen. The company also says they are working with law enforcement.
"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 Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Richard F. Smith.
The company set up a website - www.equifaxsecurity2017.com - so that consumers can determine if their information is compromised. People can also call 877-447-7559 every day, including weekends, from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. ET.
The Equifax breach is more than three times as large as the 2013 Target hack that exposed 41 million customers. Target wound up paying an $18.5 million settlement in lawsuits resulting from the hack.
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