The fall-out over the Equifax US data breach has triggered an investigation by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office amid new claims that up to 44 million Britons could have been affected.
The ICO confirmed the move in a statement which urged Equifax to alert affected UK customers as soon as possible, and said it will work with the overseas authorities on behalf of British citizens.
Equifax and its UK subsidiary companies state on their websites that they represent British clients including BT, Capital One and British Gas.
There are fears that customers of these companies could now be affected. BT said that “many companies in the UK” used Equifax services and said that it was “monitoring the situation closely”.
Equifax admitted hackers had exposed the personal data of 143 million customers in the US late last week, despite fessing up to the fact that the data was stolen between mid-May and July.
ICO deputy commissioner James Dipple-Johnstone said: “Reports of a significant data loss at US-based Equifax and the potential impact on some UK citizens gives us cause for concern.
“We are already in direct contact with Equifax to establish the facts including how many people in the UK have been affected and what kind of personal data may have been compromised.
“We will be advising Equifax to alert affected UK customers at the earliest opportunity. In cyber attack cases that cross borders the ICO is committed to working with relevant overseas authorities on behalf of UK citizens.”
A spokesman for BT said: “We are aware of the developing story and are monitoring the situation closely. Like many companies in the UK, BT uses Equifax services. We are working on establishing whether this breach has any impact on those services.”
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