Equifax CEO out after massive internet breach

By: Nicole Carr

Updated:

ATLANTA - Equifax CEO Richard Smith is out after a massive data breach.

Smith announced he is retiring effective Tuesday. The board will now search for a new permanent CEO. 

Earlier this month, officials with the Atlanta-based credit reporting and technology company said a “cyber security incident” may have exposed the personal information of 143 million U.S. consumers.

Equifax CEO Rick Smith
AJC File Photo

The data that might have been accessed includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates and addresses.

Experts and consumers told Channel 2’s Nicole Carr they have mixed feelings about Tuesday’s sudden departure by CEO Richard Smith.

At the end of the day, everyone Carr spoke with said what they want is some reassurance that Smith will be held responsible for everything that’s been compromised.

Smith has vowed his dedication to make things right in a release about his retirement.

“Were you expecting this to happen?” Carr asked Channel 2 consumer advisor Clark Howard. 

“One-hundred percent. I think everyone watching the Equifax situation knew the CEO had to go,” Howard said. 

But news of the Equifax chief’s retirement is leaving people with even more questions about what’s next.

“I’m one of the people that’s been impacted by having my credit compromised,” Pam Anthony told Carr. 

"If he’s retiring from the company, that shows that he’s potentially taking responsibility,” consumer Louis Puster said. 


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SEC filings show Smith let the feds know of his departure on Monday and the company alerted the public on Tuesday.

The company's president of Asia-Pacific operations will take the reigns.

Channel 2 Action News obtained video of Smith from mid-August where he addressed the UGA business school. 

At the time, he knew the company had compromised personal information of 143 million people. Yet his message to students and faculty gave no warning of the infamous breach.

"I'm convinced if this team continues to remain focused, the days are bright at Equifax," Smith said at the time. 

“That’s arrogant. It’s mean-spirited. It’s uncaring,” Howard said about Equifax’s limited offering of a year-long credit freeze amid the security hack. “A new CEO though, it’s not his or her situation. So the new one may be even more willing to settle whereas the current administration had to fight.”

Anthony said she is looking for government intervention. 

“I’m kind of dismayed that on the federal level they’re trying to pull away on some of the regulations on credit reporting agencies,” Anthony said. 

Howard said a more immediate Band-Aid can come in different forms. 

“Here’s what I hope Equifax will ultimately do, is cover the cost that everyone is incurring for a credit freeze,” Howard told Carr. 

Howard said he also would like to see the start of top to bottom rehabilitation of security practices as requested of the company in a group of growing class action suits.

Smith will still have a hand in the company with an advisory role through the data breach scandal.

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