By Nicole D. Prysby, J.D.
On Feb. 8, 2018, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) announced that she had joined a group of 31 senators demanding answers on reports that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has halted its investigation into Equifax’s data breach. The senators, as well as consumer advocacy organizations, have previously expressed outrage that the investigation stalled (see Banking and Finance Law Daily, Feb. 6, 2018). CFPB has reportedly not issued any subpoenas, sought testimony from Equifax executives, or done on-site examinations. The breach resulted in the release of personal data for over 145 million Americans, including names, Social Security numbers, birthdates, addresses, driver’s license numbers, and, for some consumers, credit card numbers, said Feinstein’s press release.
The group of senators sent a letter addressed to Leandra English, Acting Director of the CFPB and Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, expressing serious concerns about the data breach. The letter noted that the three largest consumer credit agencies in the U.S. collect information on more than 200 million Americans, used in more than three billion consumer reports per year. The data collected by the agencies impacts an individual’s ability to access credit, get a job, and secure housing. The letter also expressed concern that CFPB has apparently scaled back supervision of large consumer reporting agencies. The group requested answers by Feb. 19, 2018, to questions about the status of the investigation into the Equifax breach, steps CFPB has taken during the investigation, and details of any coordination that has occurred between CFPB and other law enforcement or regulatory agencies.
The letter was signed by Sens. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jon Tester (D-Mont), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md), Tom Udall (D-NM), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore), Jack Reed (D-RI), Ed Markey (D-Mass), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind), Tina Smith (Minn), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Gary Peters (D-Mich), Patty Murray (Wash), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn), Angus King (I-Maine), Ron Wyden (D-Ore), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Mark Warner (D-Va), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich), Dick Durbin (D-Ill), Chris Murphy (D-Conn), and Doug Jones (D-Ala).
Urges FTC action. In addition, Klobuchar urged the Federal Trade Commission to increase resources dedicated to its investigation of Equifax and its consumer information security practices. "According to these reports, CFPB’s investigation has been almost completely stalled, as investigators have failed to take routine investigative measures such as ordering subpoenas or seeking sworn testimony from Equifax executives," Klobuchar wrote.
MainStory: TopStory BankingFinance CFPB ConsumerCredit CyberPrivacyFeed EnforcementActions FedTracker IdentityTheft OversightInvestigations Privacy
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