In September 2017, credit agency Equifax was targeted by hackers who stole personal details of about 143 million Americans. Following the cyberattack, the agency’s handling of the breach did not earn it high marks. As a result, the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Richard Cordray, authorized an investigation before retiring in November. His successor Mick Mulvaney, however, appears to not have this on the list of top priorities, and has apparently taken no steps to pursue the investigation at this time.
According to a Reuters exclusive, “Three sources say … Mulvaney, the new CFPB chief, has not ordered subpoenas against Equifax or sought sworn testimony from executives, routine steps when launching a full-scale probe. Meanwhile the CFPB has shelved plans for on-the-ground tests of how Equifax protects data, an idea backed by Cordray.
The CFPB also recently rebuffed bank regulators at the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency when they offered to help with on-site exams of credit bureaus, said two sources familiar with the matter.”
The inaction has triggered some hot reactions, including from Sentator Elizabeth Warren, who tweeted, “Another middle finger from
@MickMulvaneyOMB to consumers: he’s killed the @CFPB’s probe into the #EquifaxBreach that affected more than 145 million Americans.”
The concern, as Matt Novak of Gizmodo writes, is that “If Equifax goes largely unpunished by government agencies, it sends a signal that’s loud and clear to other companies that control your data: Companies will pay absolutely no price for being horrifically negligent with the financial lives of Americans.”
Interestingly, just a few weeks ago, Warren and fellow Senator Mark Warner introduced a bill that, if passed, would give authority to the FTC to impose significant fines on credit agencies like Equifax.
For now, Equifax is being investigated by the FTC. In addition, the agency says it is being investigated by every state attorney general and faces numerous class-action lawsuits, according to Reuters.
Reuters writes, “Under Cordray, the CFPB and FTC agreed to work together on the Equifax inquiry, sources said. But while the agencies have similar powers to investigate, only the FTC has issued a subpoena.”
Read the full story at Reuters.