Hackers have hit a treasure trove of financial data from potentially 143 million US citizens.
Equifax, a credit reporting firm, announced on Thursday that it had been hacked from mid-May to July, with thieves stealing names, Social Security numbers, birth dates and addresses from potentially hundreds of millions of its customers.
The US population is 323 million people, according to the US census bureau. This would mean that nearly half of the country is at risk for having their personal data leaked.
“This is clearly a disappointing event, and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do. I deeply regret this incident,” Rick Smith, Equifax’s CEO said in a video released on Thursday.
The company learned about the breach on July 29, and announced it more than a month later. About 209,000 people have had their credit card numbers stolen, while hackers also stole documents with personal information on 182,000 victims, Equifax said in a statement to its investors.
People in the United Kingdom and Canada have also been affected by the breach, the company said. They have since stopped the breach, and are still investigating who is behind the break-in.
“Criminals exploited a US website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files,” Equifax said in its statement. They are working with law enforcement on the investigation.
The company is offering free identity theft protection and credit monitoring for its customers for the next year, it said.
Equifax did not respond to requests for comment.