Experian, the world’s biggest credit data firm, could face fines and class-action lawsuits as well as reputational damage from the data breach at its U.S. business, according to analysts covering the company.
Experian’s shares fell about 4.5 percent to their lowest since December on Friday following news that the breach had exposed the personal information of about 15 million people who applied for service with T-Mobile US Inc.
London-listed Experian, which disclosed the breach late on Thursday, said the incident was limited to one server and one customer – T-Mobile US – and it was taking necessary steps to prevent it from recurring.
The company said it had launched an inquiry and consulted law enforcement, while Connecticut’s attorney general also said he would launch an investigation.
Analysts said insurance should cover the short-term costs of the breach, such as steps to secure their servers and customer notifications, but the bigger damage may come as investigations progress.
“As these investigations yield answers, the possibility of fines and/or class action suits may arise,” Shore Capital said in a note.
Barclays analysts said “near-term costs” should be limited to about $10 million, but that the longer-term damage to Experian’s reputation and business model was harder to ascertain.
“T-mobile is obviously reviewing its relationship with Experian. In itself, the loss of one client is fairly immaterial (a few million dollars in our view) but if it triggers other account reviews, it could become more significant,” the analysts said in a note to clients.
Shore Capital also pointed out that given the nature of the business, “this type of event has a near certainty of occurring. This is therefore unlikely to be the last event.”
“Though this one impacts Experian, we don’t sense Experian’s competitors will be singing from the rooftops as any large data play is at risk from hackers and ID theft,” Barclays said.
Experian’s rivals include Equifax and Transunion.
(Editing by Pravin Char)
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