Business

Equifax cyber attack targets 700,000 UK customers

Around 700,000 of Equifax's UK customers have been affected by a recent cyber attack
Gareth McKeown

MAJOR international credit monitoring company Equifax is the latest firm in the UK to be targeted by cyber criminals.

Around 700,000 of Equifax's UK customers have been affected by a recent cyber attack and the financial watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has now opened an investigation.

The FCA has said it is openly disclosing the probe as it is in the "public interest" to do so in this case. The watchdog said it is "investigating the circumstances surrounding a cybersecurity incident that led to the loss of UK customer data held by Equifax Ltd on the servers of its US parent".

US-headquartered Equifax discovered the hack in July, but only informed consumers last month after the breach saw information including partial credit card details, phone numbers, and driver's licence numbers exposed.

The company said 12,086 consumers had an email address associated with their Equifax.co.uk account in 2014 accessed, while 14,961 consumers had portions of their Equifax.co.uk membership details - such as username, password, secret questions and answers and partial credit card details - from 2014 accessed.

It said 29,188 consumers had their driving licence number accessed, and 637,430 consumers had their phone numbers accessed.

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 said a file containing 15.2 million UK records, dated between 2011 and 2016, was hacked and included data from "actual" consumers, as well as test and duplicate data.

Cyber attacks have become an increasing problem for big firms that hold a large amount of customer data. HSBC and TalkTalk are among the most high profile British firms to be hit in recent years, while just weeks ago Irish grocery company Musgrave confirmed criminals attempted to get credit and debit card details of shoppers.

Musgrave, who operate in Northern Ireland and the Republic, said the attack targeted its SuperValu, Centra, Daybreak and Mace stores and malicious software had been used to try to steal the information of customers.

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