WYSO

Lawmakers Demand Investigation, Protections For Consumers Affected By Equifax Data Breach

Sep 13, 2017

Brown and a bipartisan group of lawmakers are demanding an investigation into credit bureau Equifax after a massive financial data breach.
Credit Keith Cooper / Flickr Creative Commons

Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown is calling for 10 years of free credit monitoring for Americans affected by the recent massive data breach at Equifax. 

 The credit bureau breach exposed the personal financial data of 143 million Americans, leaving them vulnerable to identity theft. Brown also wants legislation that would allow consumers to more easily freeze their credit reports to keep fraudsters from accessing Ohioans' personal data, including Social Security numbers, addresses, and driver’s license numbers.     

“We need to hold Equifax accountable - and other companies that compromise our information - to make sure their financial lives are not compromised or even ruined by a corporation’s carelessness.”  

Brown took to Twitter to criticize Equifax's handling of the breach.

Brown is a ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee.

He and more than three dozen other lawmakers also sent a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission asking the agencies to launch an investigation into alleged insider trading by top Equifax executives, who are accused of selling nearly $2 million in Equifax stock after the company learned about the data breach.

The breach is believed to have occurred in May and was discovered internally by Equifax in late July. The company did not notify the public until September 7.

Bill Durfey, from Hamilton, was affected by the breach. He told Brown he's worried about the potential impact of the Equifax data theft on his family's financial future.

“We are now in our mid-70s and are hit with the perspective of having our excellent credit data used by others who have no right to use it. Senator Brown is going to bat for us requesting, through legislation, that they cover the cost of credit monitoring for a period of 10 years,” Durfey says.

At Brown’s urging, Equifax removed forced-arbitration clauses from offers the company made to affected customers for free credit monitoring and identity protection services.

Arbitration clauses typically bar consumers from pursuing their rights in court or joining a future class-action lawsuit.

The full text of the lawmakers' letter is below:

   

September 12, 2017 Dear Chairman Clayton, Attorney General Sessions, and Acting Chairman Ohlhausen: We write to request that the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Trade Commission investigate disturbing reports that senior Equifax executives sold more than $1.5 million in Equifax securities within days of a cybersecurity breach that may have compromised the personal information, including Social Security numbers, of as many as 143 million Americans. In addition, there are reports that Equifax “also lost control of an unspecified number of driver’s license numbers, along with the credit card numbers for 209,000 consumers and credit dispute documents for 182,000.” As part of your investigations, we request that you conduct a thorough examination of any unusual trading, including any atypical options trading, for violations of insider trading law. To the extent that your investigations uncover any information regarding whether Equifax management employed reasonable measures to ensure the security of the now compromised data prior to this cyber breach, we would appreciate your sharing these details. We request that you spare no effort in your investigations and in enforcing the law to the fullest extent against anyone who is found to be at fault. We thank you for your consideration, and we request periodic updates on your progress.