Credit reporting firm Equifax says data breach could potentially - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Credit reporting firm Equifax says data breach could potentially affect 143 million US consumers

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ATLANTA -

Equifax, which supplies credit information and other information services, said Thursday that a data breach could have potentially affected 143 million consumers in the United States.

The population of the U.S. was about 324 million as of Jan. 1, 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which means the Equifax incident affects a huge portion of the United States.

Equifax said it discovered the breach on July 29. "Criminals exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files," the company said.

Shares of Equifax fell more than 5 percent during after-hours trading.

Leaked data includes names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, addresses and some driver's license numbers, all of which the company aims to protect for its customers. The company added that 209,000 U.S. credit card numbers were obtained, in addition to "certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers."

Equifax CEO and Chairman Richard Smith said apologized to consumers and customers and noted that he's aware the breach affects what Equifax is supposed to protect.

Equifax said it is now alerting customers whose information was included in the breach via mail, and is working with state and federal authorities. Its private investigation into the breach is complete.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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