The Equifax Breach happened months ago but the company didn’t disclose the Hack

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In a report, the organization said the March gap was not linked to the hack that opened the personal and financial data on 143 million U.S. consumers, but one of the users said the violations involve the very intruders. Either way, the announcement that the 118-year-old credit-reporting agency experienced two major incidents in the span of a few periods adds to a mounting crisis at the company, which is the case of multiple searches and declared the retirement of two of its top security executives on Friday.

 Equifax hired the security firm Mandiant on both times and may have thought it had the initial break under control, only to have to take the investigators back when it discovered suspicious activity again on July 29, two of the people said.

Equifax’s hiring of Mandiant the first time was irrelevant to the July 29 incident, the group spokesperson said. Vitor De Souza, senior vice president of global purchasing at FireEye Inc., Mandiant’s parent corporation, declined to comment.

The revelation of a March breach will involve the company’s efforts to solve a series of unusual plant sales by Equifax executives. If it’s determined that those officials did so with the understanding that either or both crimes could damage the company, they could be exposed to charges of insider trading. The U.S. Justice Department has begun a criminal investigation into the stock sales, according to somebody familiar with the probe.

Equifax has said the officials had no knowledge that an invasion had happened when the sales were made. The company’s pieces fell as much as 1.3 percent in after-hours buying. The stock closed at $94.38 in New York on Monday.

New questions about Equifax’s timeline are also expected to become central to the crush of claims being registered against the Atlanta-based company. Investigators and customers alike want to know how a committed custodian of so many Americans’ individual data could let hackers gain access to the most relevant details of financial identity, including social security and driver’s license numbers, and steal credit card numbers.

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