Experian Says Still Waiting for Explanation From Equifax

(Bloomberg) -- Equifax Inc.’s lack of transparency about its massive data breach makes it difficult for the credit-rating firm’s competitors to check the security of their own information, according to Experian Plc.

“We don’t have a conclusive statement from Equifax,” Alex Lintner, Experian’s president of consumer information services, said Tuesday in an interview. “We’re trying to get one about what happened, so we can double-, triple-, quadruple-check whatever equivalent we have.”

Atlanta-based Equifax last week reported a cyberattack that may have affected 143 million people -- or about half the U.S. population -- revealing Social Security numbers, driver’s license data and birth dates. Experian, which collects similar customer information, said it has confidence in its underlying security and technologies.

“Information security is a company’s job and this is an Equifax problem,” Lintner said. “We’ve always invested in technologies and processes and people with the skills to try to avoid an event like this.”

TransUnion, another Equifax rival, said Monday it conducted a review and doesn’t believe it’s vulnerable to the same type of assault that hit Equifax. Chief Financial Officer Todd Cello told investors at a conference in New York that his company uses the same software as Equifax, but has made sure it’s up to date.

Unlike banks, Equifax and the other credit-rating firms don’t have multiple government agencies monitoring them. They are supervised only by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which requires that banks go through credit bureaus for consumer data even as lenders increasingly rely on proprietary models for data.

While many firms are trying to disrupt the current process, Lintner said the credit bureaus’ place in a regulated industry provides a barrier to entry.

“From what I’ve seen now, it would take years for a transition to occur and if it occurs we’ll be at the forefront of that transition,” Lintner said.

Equifax gained 2.5 percent to $115.96 at 4 p.m. in New York, helping pare a 21 percent decline since Sept. 7, when it announced the breach after the close of regular trading. Experian was unchanged in London, while TransUnion slipped 0.3 percent.