Even in the new year, the knocks keep coming for Equifax. This week, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged a former executive with insider trading for selling close to $1 million in company stock after he learned of the massive data breach last year.
The SEC alleges that Jun Ying, the former chief information officer of one of the company’s U.S. business divisions, sold the shares in response to the hack — before Equifax disclosed it to the public.
Feds: Former Equifax honcho sold stocks before hack was disclosed
The Atlanta-based company announced in September 2017 that criminals exploited a web portal application to gain access to people’s names, addresses, Social Security numbers and other sensitive data.
As more information has become available in the following months, it is now believed that as many as 148 million people may have been exposed to identity theft as a result of the cybersecurity incident.
By selling Equifax stock before word of the breach got out, Ying, who was on track to become the company’s global CIO, avoided a $117,000 loss, according to the SEC’s civil complaint.
“As alleged in our complaint, Ying used confidential information to conclude that his company had suffered a massive data breach, and he dumped his stock before the news went public,” Richard R. Best, director of the SEC’s Atlanta Regional Office said in a news release. “Corporate insiders who learn inside information, including information about material cyber intrusions, cannot betray shareholders for their own financial benefit.”
In tandem with the SEC’s actions, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta on Wednesday announced parallel criminal charges against Ying.
“This defendant took advantage of his position as Equifax’s USIS Chief Information Officer and allegedly sold over $950,000 worth of stock to profit before the company announced a data breach,” U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak said in a statement. “Our office takes the abuse of trust inherent in insider trading very seriously and will prosecute those who seek to profit in this manner.”
Even before these latest revelations, money expert Clark Howard has recommended that consumers not use Equifax’s credit–monitoring service. Instead, he has consistently touted Credit Karma as a free and safe alternative for keeping tabs on your most valuable information.
Protect your credit by doing these 2 things
Clark recommends the following two ways to protect yourself. Here’s what to do:
- Sign up for a Credit Karma or Credit Sesame account to get free credit monitoring and be notified when anyone tries to access your personal info. Here’s a step-by-step rundown of how to do it.
- Freeze your credit at the three major credit-reporting bureaus. Here’s an in-depth guide on how to contact Equifax, TransUnion and Experian to get your accounts frozen.