Equifax Inc. learned about a major breach of its computer systems in March -- almost five months before the date it has publicly disclosed.

New questions about Equifax’s timeline are also likely to become central to the crush of lawsuits being filed against the Atlanta-based company. Investigators and consumers alike want to know how a trusted custodian of so many Americans’ private data could let hackers gain access to the most important details of financial identity, including social security and driver’s license numbers, and steal credit card numbers.

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