Equifax data breach may have compromised 140 million people

Before it was announced that hundreds of millions of Americans had their data stolen, three execs sold shares

Published September 8, 2017 7:52AM (EDT)

 (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)
(AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

The consumer credit reporting agency Equifax is under scrutiny after an alleged criminal data breach potentially compromised the files of roughly 143 million Americans.

Because the population of the United States was roughly 324 million as of 2017, more than one-third of the country may have been impacted by the breach, according to CNBC. The company claims that it discovered the data breach on July 29 because "criminals exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files."

In addition to prompting troubling questions about the status of the social security numbers and other personal information of Equifax customers, the story also raises suspicions about the actions of three of the company's senior executives. SEC filings reveal that Chief Financial Officer John Gamble Jr., workforce solutions president Rodolfo Ploder and U.S. information solutions president Joseph Loughran sold a combined total of nearly $1.8 million in stock within days of the breach's discovery — but before it was announced to the public.

Three days after the breach was discovered, Gamble sold $946,374 worth of stock shares and Loughran sold $584,099 worth of stock shares. On August 2, Ploder sold $250,458 worth of stock shares. According to company spokeswoman Ines Gutzmer, this was merely a "small percentage of their Equifax shares" and they "had no knowledge that an intrusion had occurred at the time."

Equifax shares fell by more than 6 percent in after-hours trading on Thursday once news of the data breach came out, according to Business Insider. They also report that credit card numbers were accessed for roughly 209,000 people and documents were accesses for 182,000 people during the breach.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a professional writer whose work has appeared in multiple national media outlets since 2012 and exclusively at Salon since 2016. He specializes in covering science and history, and is particularly passionate about climate change, animal science, disability rights, plastic pollution and a wide range of political issues. He has interviewed many prominent figures (reflecting his diverse interests) including President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (1999-2001), animal scientist and autism activist Temple Grandin, inventor Ernő Rubik, epidemiologist Monica Gandhi, theoretical cosmologist Janna Levin, mRNA vaccine pioneer Katalin Karikó, philosopher of science Vinciane Despret, actor George Takei ("Star Trek"), climatologist Michael E. Mann, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson (2012, 2016), actress Cady McClain ("All My Children"), Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman (2000), Ambassador Michael McFaul (2012-2014), economist Richard Wolff, director Kevin Greutert ("Saw VI"), model Liskula Cohen, actor Rodger Bumpass ("SpongeBob Squarepants"), Senator John Hickenlooper (2021-present), American Public Health Association Executive Director Georges Benjamin (2002-present), comedian Bill Burr ("F Is for Family"), novelist James Patterson ("The President's Daughter"), comedian David Cross ("Scary Movie 2") and right-wing insurrectionist Roger Stone.

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Data Breach Equifax Insider Trading