Sen. Elizabeth Warren is launching an investigation into the causes of Equifax Inc.’s massive data breach, along with a new bill that would give consumers more control over their credit data.
In a letter to Equifax
, the Massachusetts Democrat said Friday the company “has failed to provide the necessary information describing exactly how this happened, and exactly how [its] security systems failed,” adding that initial customer service information “did nothing to clarify the situation and actually appeared to be efforts to hoodwink [consumers] into waiving important legal rights.”
Warren also asked the two other major credit reporting agencies, TransUnion
, what they are doing about risk of further data breaches and the dangers of identity theft.
Additionally, Warren is asking the Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau if Equifax properly notified them of the data breach, what steps were taken to protect consumers, and how many complaints were filed related to the hack. In a separate letter to the Government Accounting Office, Warren requested for “a thorough investigation of consumer data security.”
Read: Were you impacted by the Equifax breach? You risk financial chaos by doing nothing
Separately, Warren and Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, introduced the Freedom From Equifax Exploitation Act on Friday, which would give consumers more control over their personal data, enhance fraud alert protections, ban fees for credit freezes and give those affected by the data breach an additional free credit report. The bill would also require refunds for credit-freeze fees collected in the wake of the hack.
“Credit reporting agencies like Equifax make billions of dollars collecting and selling personal data about consumers without their consent, and then make consumers pay if they want to stop the sharing of their own data,” Warren said in a statement. “Passing this bill is a first step toward reforming the broken credit reporting industry.”
More than 140 million Americans could be affected by the Equifax breach, which included Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers and credit-card numbers. That data exposes consumers to financial identity theft, and the potential of fraudulent accounts that could cause years of financial chaos.
“This is about making sure companies like Equifax do right by the consumer, by restoring trust, security, and privacy to millions of Americans,” Schatz said in a statement. “You would think that, when it comes to cybersecurity, companies would put people over profit, but as we’ve seen with Equifax, that is not always the case. Congress must act to protect consumer privacy, along with people’s ability to get a loan, to buy a car, or even get a new job. There’s a lot at stake here.”
On Thursday, Warren reintroduced another bill that would prohibit employers from requiring job-seekers to provide a credit report as part of their application process, saying studies have found credit reports are often wrong, and that the number of credit-history errors due to fraud will likely increase after the Equifax hack.