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New Equifax CEO: Sorry for the hack and bad customer service

By Ken Sweet Associated Press

NEW YORK – Equifax, under pressure from a massive data breach, is apologizing and trying again to make amends to consumers. Its new interim CEO – installed last week after the previous chief executive announced his retirement – offered his “sincere and total apology” to the customers impacted, in an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal.

The apology comes ahead of hearings this week, when company executives will be facing Congress to explain to angry politicians how the company ended up exposing the personal information of 143 million Americans.

Here’s the latest on the breach:

Equifax actions

Equifax’s interim CEO Paulino do Rego Barros Jr. offered his mea culpa for what happened, and promised that customers would also have access to a service that will let them lock and unlock their credit files anytime.

The service will be available by Jan. 31 and will be free for life, he said. He also cited the TrustedID credit-watching package that the company is offering. And though he acknowledged that Equifax had “compounded the problem with insufficient support for consumers,” the company’s website said it was “experiencing difficulties” with the TrustedID website.

Previous CEO Richard Smith stepped down Tuesday, less than three weeks after the credit reporting agency disclosed the hack.

State actions

The city of Chicago is joining those suing Equifax, with Mayor Rahm Emanuel saying the company should be held accountable for the breach and the delay in notifying consumers. The lawsuit seeks restitution for those affected, including more than 5 million in Illinois.

Equifax is also still facing several state and federal inquiries and myriad class-action lawsuits, including congressional investigations, queries by the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and probes by several state attorneys general.

San Francisco and Massachusetts are among those suing. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is also questioning the two other credit-monitoring companies, TransUnion and Experian, about what precautions they have taken to protect sensitive consumer information.

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