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Equifax warns on post-breach costs, revenue hit

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Equifax

Equifax Inc. said Thursday that its net income slumped about 27 percent in the third quarter, weighed down by costs related to its data breach that exposed the personal information of 145 million Americans earlier this year.

While analysts say the long-term financial impact of the breach on the company, or on consumers, will not be known for several quarters, the credit reporting firm may give an estimate on expected costs.

The FREE Act would also prevent credit reporting agencies from profiting off of consumers' information during a freeze, enhance fraud alert protections, and provide the opportunity for consumers to receive an additional free credit report following the Equifax data breach.

The company is now facing state and federal investigations as well as class-action lawsuits over the breach and has offered free credit monitoring to members of the general public, regardless of whether their information was stolen. "We can not assure that all potential causes of the incident have been identified and remediated and will not occur again", it said in a quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Johnson estimated the costs from the breach will total in the hundreds of millions of dollars, but that lost revenue could be even larger.

Equifax said this month that executives who sold almost $2 million in stock just prior to the disclosure of the hack were unaware of the breach at the time.

"Expenses include costs to investigate and remediate the cybersecurity incident and legal and other professional services related thereto, all of which were expensed as incurred", said Equifax.

It revealed Thursday that, in relation to shares sales by executives in the immediate aftermath of the breach, it has now received subpoenas from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia, where it is based. The company expects revenue of $825 million to $835 million, compared to the average analyst forecast of $833.65 million.

Since the disclosure, the share of Equifax credit files locked or frozen by consumers has gone from 0.5 percent to between 1.5 percent and two percent, according to Gamble. The stock is down around 24 percent since September 7, when Equifax disclosed the breach.

All told, the company said Thursday that its net income fell to $96.3 million, or 79 cents per share, for the three months ended September 30.

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