Shaheen, Hassan Join Group of Senators to Demand Answers on Reports of CFPB’s Stalled Investigation into Equifax Breach
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined a group of 29 senators in demanding answers on reports that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has halted its investigation into how credit reporting agency Equifax failed to protect the personal data of over 145 million Americans.
“We are deeply troubled by recent news reports that, under Director Mulvaney’s leadership, the CFPB has stopped its investigation into the Equifax breach,” the senators wrote. “The CFPB is currently the only federal agency with supervisory authority over the largest consumer reporting agencies. Consumer reporting agencies and the data they collect play a central role in consumers’ access to credit and the fair and competitive pricing of that credit. Therefore, the CFPB has a clear duty to supervise consumer reporting agencies, investigate how this breach has or will harm consumers, and bring enforcement actions as necessary.”
According to reports, CFPB has not issued any subpoenas, sought testimony from key executives at Equifax, or proceeded with on-site examinations.
The Equifax breach exposed data that included customers’ names, Social Security numbers, birthdates, addresses, driver’s license numbers, and, for some consumers, credit card numbers. This data could easily be used by criminals to steal people’s identity or commit fraud. The impact on consumers whose data has been stolen is potentially devastating. As a result of identity theft and fraud, customers face the risk of having debt accrued in their name. They could suffer long-lasting damage to their credit, which could lead to them being denied loans, mortgages, employment, or even rental housing. To resolve the damage done by this data breach, they will likely spend months, if not years, trying to correct resulting errors and problems with their financial records.
Joining Senators Shaheen and Hassan on the letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and CFPB Acting Director Leandra English are U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jon Tester (D-MT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tom Udall (D-NM), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jack Reed (D-RI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Tina Smith (MN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Gary Peters (D-MI), Patty Murray (WA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Angus King (I-ME), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MN), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Doug Jones (D-AL).
The full text of the letter is available here.
In September, Shaheen, who is the former lead Democrat on the Senate Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee, joined Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), the lead Democrat on the House Small Business Committee, and called on the newly installed leadership of Equifax to explain how they will contain the damage caused by the breach and help small business victims. The Senator also previously sent a letter with eight of her Senate colleagues to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner John Koskinen, requesting further scrutiny of the IRS’s decision to award Equifax a sole-source contract to verify taxpayer identities and help prevent fraud despite the company’s massive cybersecurity breach.
As a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing, Senator Hassan questioned former and current Equifax executives about protecting consumer data and the company’s responsibility to adequately notify consumers of and remediate the damage from data breaches like the one Equifax recently experienced.