MarketWatch First Take: Equifax should pay the price for failing investors and the public

“Equifax will not be defined by this incident but rather by how we respond,” Equifax Inc. Chief Executive Richard Smith predicted Thursday.

He was right. Equifax’s reaction to a data breach that potentially revealed personal data on two-thirds of American adults has defined the company, in popular opinion and on Wall Street. Poorly executed and reeking of impropriety, the response to the company’s failure to perform its most basic task warrants a pummeling of Equifax’s stock EFX, +2.51% and should spur additional federal regulatory scrutiny to protect consumers.

Equifax exists solely to securely collect and provide data on consumers, yet it was forced to announce last week that unknown attackers enjoyed nearly two months’ worth of access to some parts of the Equifax network, potentially with access to data on 143 million Americans.

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