Canada watchdog asks Equifax to help citizens impacted by breach

Credit reporting company Equifax Inc. corporate offices are pictured in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., September 8, 2017. REUTERS/Tami Chappell

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s privacy commissioner on Tuesday asked credit bureau Equifax Inc to quickly implement a system for allowing Canadians to determine if their data was compromised in a massive cyber attack that the company disclosed last week.

Equifax said on Sept. 7 that the breach had exposed data of as many as 143 million U.S. consumers. It launched a website that allows Americans to check whether they were impacted and sign up for free credit-monitoring services.

The company said the breach had also affected an unknown number of UK and Canadian consumers, but did not implement similar websites for people in those countries.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, an independent agency that reports to Parliament, said in a statement posted on its website on Tuesday that it had advised Equifax to alert affected Canadians as soon as possible.

“We expect the company to adopt measures to help affected Canadians,” the statement said.

The privacy office said it would work with data-protection authorities in Canada and other nations to determine what happened and to “mitigate future risks for Canadians.”

The company has said it believes that cyber criminals obtained names, addresses and Social Insurance Numbers from a limited number of Canadians, but it has not said how many.

Thirty-six U.S. senators on Tuesday called on federal authorities to probe the sale of nearly $2 million in Equifax shares by company executives in the days after the data breach.

Reporting by Alastair Sharp in Toronto; Editing by Jim Finkle and Dan Grebler