Equifax boss Richard Smith quits after huge data breach

Emma Haslett
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The breach is thought to have exposed the details of half the US population. (Source: Getty)

The boss of a credit reporting giant which was hacked over the summer, potentially exposing the personal data of half the US population, has stepped down, it said today.

Equifax said Richard Smith, its chief executive and chairman, will retire today. Mark Feidler, currently a member of its board, will take on the role of non-executive chairman, while Paulino do Rego Barros, president of Equifax's Asia Pacific arm, will become its interim chief executive.

"Serving as CEO of Equifax has been an honour, and I'm indebted to the 10,000 Equifax employees who have dedicated their lives to making this a better company," he said today.

"The cybersecurity incident has affected millions of consumers, and I have been completely dedicated to making this right. At this critical juncture, I believe it is in the best interests of the company to have new leadership to move the company forward."

It is thought the massive data breach, which was discovered at the end of July, put 143m Americans' personal details at risk, including social security numbers, names, addresses and birth dates. The US total US population is 323m.

Some 209,000 people had their credit card numbers stolen, while 182,000 consumers' "dispute documents", which includes identifying information, were also exposed.

The hackers also accessed "limited personal information" of British consumers.

Shares in the company fell 2.8 per cent to $102.27 as the market opened in the US.

Read more: A top global bank will suffer an Equifax scale hack, cyber expert predicts

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