In an unusual move, the Federal Trade Commission confirmed on Thursday that it has launched an investigation into Equifax (EFX) .
"The FTC typically does not comment on ongoing investigations," said Peter Kaplan, the FTC's Acting Director of Public Affairs, in a statement. "However, in light of the intense public interest and the potential impact of this matter, I can confirm that FTC staff is investigating the Equifax data breach."
The company, one of the nation's biggest credit bureaus, said on Sept. 7 thatbelonging to 143 million U.S. consumers after exploiting a on the company's website. The theft, which occurred between mid-May and July, included people's names, Social Security numbers, birth dates and other data.
Equifaxto account for how hackers were able to penetrate its systems. The House Energy and Commerce Committee has summoned CEO Richard Smith CEO to testify at a hearing next month. Leaders of the powerful Senate Finance Committee have also written a letter to Smith seeking information on the hack, including when the company became aware of it.
The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has announced its own investigation of Equifax, while at least 40 state attorneys general are also looking into the company.
Equifax this week attributed the data theft to.
"We are actively engaging with and being responsive to regulators, federal agencies and legislators and expect to continue to do so in the future," an Equifax spokeswoman said.
The credit bureau hasto the breach, one of the largest in U.S. corporate history. An Equifax website intended to let people know if their personal data has been compromised has drawn complaints about its accuracy.
Compounding those frustrations, three senior executives with the company, including its chief financial officer, sold $1.8 million worth of company stock only days after Equifax discovered the breach but weeks before it was made public. More than have asked the FTC, Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission to examine possible insider trading in connection with the stock sales.
Equifax denies that the trades were connected to the cyberattack.
Financial analysts said Equifax must act quickly to head off potentially aggressive government action against the company.
"We believe that Equifax is running out of time to fully unveil a response to the data breach that will be extensive enough to win political praise and help the firm escape the spotlight," said Jaret Seiberg, an analyst with Cowen Washington Research Group, in a note.
The company's shares fell $3.05, or 3 percent, to $95.94, after news of the FTC probe surfaced before recovering later in the day.