Insider Q&A: Equifax's new CEO talks rebuilding trust

FILE- In this March 28, 2018, file photo Equifax CEO Mark Begor poses for a photo in Atlanta. Equifax announced last month that Begor, a long-time financial industry executive, would be taking over as permanent CEO of the company. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart, File)

Mark Begor talks to The Associated Press about leading Equifax at a time when it's still recovering from last year's massive data breach that exposed the personal information of nearly 150 million Americans.

NEW YORK — Equifax announced last month that Mark Begor, a long-time financial industry executive, would take over as CEO of the company on April 16.

Begor joins Equifax at a time when it's still recovering from last year's massive data breach that exposed the personal information of nearly 150 million Americans. The stolen information included Social Security numbers, birthdates and addresses, which can be used for identity theft. It was the largest breach of crucial personal information in history, and led to Equifax's previous CEO stepping down, as well as several other executives.

Begor spoke to The Associated Press after the company announced they were hiring him. The interview has been edited for length and clarity:

Q: What attracted you to the job?

A: Obviously the breach was a real challenge for business. But I've been impressed with how they've been responding to it. They have been making heavy investments and focusing on bringing in the right talent to fix what went wrong. But one of my principle goals is really to regain the trust of our customers, of the consumer and the public.

Q: What goes into rebuilding trust?

A: The business is discussing heavily the infrastructure and it's fortifying its defenses around cybersecurity. As you know, we're not unique or alone in being impacted by this massive global threat of cybersecurity, and we didn't have the right defenses in place, but we're definitely going to have to do that. The second is really spending time with customers, and our partners, to make sure that they know we're serious about that investment.

Q: Since the breach, there's been a growing conversation around the fact that people don't really have any say on how their data is gathered. Are you taking a different approach to looking at how actual Americans' data you're collecting is being handled?

A: Consumers do need to have control of their data that they entrust to us. I think since the breach Equifax has been industry leading around the blocks and alerts that will allow consumers to take control of their credit information and decide when they want it available to financial institutions. I believe that's right for the business.

Q: The breach remains the biggest issue, but what are other things that you're looking at more broadly to grow this company?

A: My goal is for Equifax to be an industry leader around protecting consumer data. That's a personal priority for me. But we are going to continue to invest in our core data analytics services and our workforce solutions and employee verification business. The third leg of that strategy is around investing globally to bring credit and analytic decisioning to our customers and partners in other parts of the world.

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