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In a rare move, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission on Thursday confirmed that it has opened an investigation into the data breach at Equifax that compromised the sensitive personal information of 143 million U.S. consumers.
The FTC announcement came less than a week after Equifax revealed that an unknown party had gained access to names, addresses, Social Security Numbers and other data belonging to nearly half the U.S. population. An unknown number of Canadian and UK consumers were directly impacted by the breach as well.
Along with personal information, the attackers stole more than 209,000 customer credit card numbers and nearly 190,000 credit dispute files.
Equifax hired an outside cybersecurity firm to investigate and contacted law enforcement to look into the incident, it said.
Twisting the Knife?
Equifax triggered a severe backlash following news of the breach for what critics have characterized as an attempt to make money from consumers seeking to find out if their identities were stolen, and to prevent them from participating in any future legal action against the firm.
Offers to sell the stolen consumer information reportedly have turned up on the Dark Web.
“The FTC typically does not comment on ongoing investigations,” said Peter Kaplan, acting director, public affairs.
“However in light of the intense public interest and potential impact of the matter, I can confirm that FTC staff is investigating the Equifax data breach,” he told the E-Commerce Times.
The agency also warned consumers to be on the alert for phone scams — for example, someone pretending to be from Equifax in an effort to trick people into providing personal data.
The Apache Software Foundation on Thursday confirmed that the data breach was due to Equifax’s failure…