Equifax: Umm, actually hackers stole records of 15.2 million Brits, not 400000

Today consumers who want to freeze access to their credit files must contact each of the three major credit bureaus separately and usually pay one fee for freezing and another for thawing their reports

Equifax revealed on Tuesday that hackers accessed information on almost 700,000 British consumers in a breach earlier this year, significantly more than initially believed.

The beleaguered credit reference agency Equifax has now admitted that 694,000 customers in the United Kingdom had their data stolen between May and July this year.

In one of the biggest data breaches in U.S. history, Equifax originally reported that cyber criminals between mid-May and late July had accessed the personal information on roughly 145.5m people, mostly in America, including social security numbers, birth dates and addresses. The latest Equifax security breach, revealed last month, is now understood to have affected close to 700,000 UK-based customers.

Those at risk of having information accessed are not just Equifax customers, as Equifax holds data on some 44 million people in the UK.

To post a fraud alert on your credit file, you must contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies below. Regrettably, this file contained data relating to actual consumers as well as sizeable test datasets, duplicates and spurious fields, ' said the agency in its latest public announcement on the breach.

The company wouldn't say if the passwords or any other data was encrypted or stored in plain text.

Initially the credit rating firm reassured customers that the data accessed in the breach was not critical enough that theft was likely, but security professionals have disputed this.

For the remaining consumers, the company is offering its own identity protection service called Equifax Protect for free.

"I would like to extend my most honest apologies to anyone who has been concerned about or impacted by this criminal act", Equifax's President for Europe Patricio Remon said in a statement Tuesday.

The breach also impacted some British and Canadian consumers. After exploiting the flaw to hack into Equifax in March, intruders actively roamed its systems from mid-May through July 30, when Equifax detected the breach and closed the hole.

"I urge anyone who receives a letter from Equifax to take advantage of the remedial services being offered to help mitigate against any risk, or to contact us should you have any questions". Last week, the firm's CEO Rick Smith resigned, closely following the departures of Equifax's CIO and CSO.

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