Equifax CEO Richard Smith steps down in wake of massive hack

New York (AFP) –


Equifax chief executive and chairman Richard Smith stepped down Tuesday in the wake of a massive hack of the consumer credit rating service.

The company tapped longtime Equifax executive Paulino do Rego Barros, Jr. as interim chief executive while it undertakes a search for a new leader following the massive data breach, disclosed earlier this month, that resulted in the theft of personal information from 143 million US customers.

Smith's retirement from both roles took effect Tuesday, the company said.

"At this critical juncture, I believe it is in the best interests of the company to have new leadership to move the company forward," Smith said.

Mark Feidler, a board member who was named non-executive chairman, said the board is "totally focused" on the cybsercurity incident.

"We are working intensely to support consumers and make the necessary changes to minimize the risk that something like this happens again. Speaking for everyone on the Board, I sincerely apologize."

Equifax disclosed the breach September 7, saying hackers obtained names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver's license numbers from the database, potentially opening up victims to identity theft.

The company said credit card numbers were compromised for some 209,000 US consumers, as were credit dispute documents for 182,000 people.