Credit reporting company Equifax Inc. corporate offices are pictured in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Tami Chappell/Reuters

Equifax CEO retires after massive breach of consumer data

The chief executive of Equifax is out after a massive data breach compromised the personal information of 143 million Americans.

Richard F. Smith will “retire” as chairman and CEO of the credit reporting agency today, according to a statement released by the company.

Equifax’s board of directors “remains deeply concerned about and totally focused on the cybersecurity incident,” Mark Feidler, appointed as non-executive chairman, said in the statement. “We are working intensely to support consumers and make the necessary changes to minimize the risk that something like this happens again.”

The move follows a personnel change nearly two weeks ago, in which two high-level Equifax officials stepped down as the agency investigated how hackers infiltrated files that contained people’s names, Social Security numbers, addresses, among other sensitive information available on a credit report.

Half of all Americans could have had their sensitive data compromised by a security breach at the credit reporting agency Equifax. William Brangham joins John Yang to discuss what happened and what consumers should do to safeguard their credit.

News of the breach prompted swift condemnation from lawmakers, but, as the Associated Press pointed out, hacks seen in recent years affecting consumer data at Target, Yahoo, Home Depot, among others, has not led to tougher standards for protecting that sensitive information. Instead, congressional lawmakers have largely left the issue to the states, and there’s been a lack of Republican support for legislation that would enforce better practices for storing consumer data, AP reported.

Three of the company’s executives had also sold $1.8 million in company shares after the hack was discovered and before customers were notified of the breach, The New York Times reported.

Smith was already scheduled to testify at twin hearings in early October. And the FBI is spear-heading a federal investigation into the hack.

READ MORE: After Equifax breach, Congress unlikely to pass new rules to protect consumer data