Equifax CEO Rick Smith retires in wake of data breach

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Longtime Equifax CEO Richard Smith stepped down from his job Tuesday, the latest victim of company security breaches that revealed private data about 143 million Americans. Earlier this month, Equifax said its chief information officer and chief security officer were also stepping down.

Smith was a General Electric executive before he became Equifax CEO in 2005. In an SEC filing, Equifax says its board has begun hunting for a new CEO. If the review does not find Smith at fault, he could walk away with a retirement package of at least $18.48 million, along the value of the stock and options he was paid out over his 12-year tenure.

That new leadership is interim CEO Paulino do Rego Barros Jr., who oversaw Equifax's Asia Pacific department, and has been with the company for seven years.

"I've called for Equifax executives to be held accountable for their role in failing to stop this data breach and hiding it from the public for 40 days", the MA lawmaker said in a statement. He added that the board had formed a special committee to focus on issues stemming from the breach.

Smith's abrupt departure follows the resignation of the company's chief security officer and chief information officer as Equifax continues to reel from the hacking scandal.

The announcement comes a week before Smith was expected to testify before multiple congressional committees about the cyber attack. Earlier on Twitter, the House Energy and Commerce Committee said Smith would testify on October 3.

A member of the Senate Banking Committee said he still wanted Smith to appear at the hearing.

The move is unsurprising given the massive public backlash regarding the data breach itself, not to mention more recent insider trading concerns with Equifax coming under fire after three high-level executives sold off part of their stock just days after the breach was discovered internally.

Smith apologized in USA Today on September 13 and called it "the most humbling moment" in Equifax's history.

Equifax is offering free credit monitoring to impacted consumers, but some people are wary of using credit monitoring offered by the same company that compromised their personal information in the first place. It also seeks civil penalties of up to $2,500 per violation of the law and a court order requiring Equifax to implement and maintain appropriate security procedures for highly sensitive information.

"We are drafting a bill right now that would offer your protections in case one of these data breaches ever occurs again", he said in a video posted Monday.



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