Atlanta reacts to retirement of Equifax CEO

- Weeks after the news broke that hackers stole the personal information of millions of Americans from Equifax, the credit reporting company announced the retirement of its CEO.

Richard Smith led the company for 12 years before Tuesday's sudden announcement.

"He had no choice and I don't think that's enough to be done, but there was no way they could move forward with him in place," said Erin Freer, the franchise owner of Blo-Blow Dry Bars at Buckhead and at Ponce.

Freer discovered Tuesday, both she and her husband were on the list of "likely" hacking victims.

"I was extremely frustrated and actually angry," said Freer.

To anyone familiar with the business world, the news of Smith's departure was not surprising.

"One of the fundamental elements of effective leadership today is confidence and trust," explained Peter Topping, associate professor of organization and management at Emory University's Goizueta Business School. "It's a very slippery animal. You can build trust over years and lose it very fast when it kind of falls out of your grasp and how you recover from that says a lot to the public."

Topping said it did not appear as though Equifax had a strong crisis management plan in place, but he said replacing Smith could prove to be a watershed moment for the company.

"I think they will recover if they step into this role now of effective crisis leadership, but yet you don't know and it could get worse before it gets better. And if stock price and shareholder confidence really drops, they're going to be in serious trouble," said Topping.

Freer said she will have to closely monitor her credit and bank accounts for years to come and as a business owner, she hopes others will take heed.

"I think it's just a reminder to really keep a close eye on all your information and as a business owner, make sure that [...] your customers' credit card information is safe," she warned.

RELATED: How to protect yourself after the Equifax data breach

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