October 12, 2017

Warren Presses Former Equifax CEO Richard Smith for More Answers on Data Breach

Following the Banking Committee Hearing, Warren Questions Smith about Extent of the Hack and Equifax's Response

Full text of the letter and QFRs (PDF)

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today sent a letter and a series of "Questions for the Record" to the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Equifax, Richard Smith, following up on a series of questions she submitted in advance of his testimony before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee on the company's recent data breach.
Senator Warren had previously sent multiple inquiries to Mr. Smith and Interim CEO Paulino do Rego Barros about the security breach that exposed the personal information of millions of Americans and the company's response to it. While Equifax responded to Senator Warren's initial inquiry, the company's answers, and Mr. Smith's hearing testimony, prompted Senator Warren to submit 79 questions for the record.
"At your hearing, you stated that the hack was the result of both human and technological errors," wrote Senator Warren. "You failed to describe in detail how these errors occurred or what safeguards, if any, Equifax had in place to prevent or mitigate such errors." Senator Warren requested additional details about the precise extent of the breach and Equifax's initial response; the company's failure to adequately protect consumer data; problems with Equifax's efforts to assist consumers after the breach; the company's cybersecurity strategy, and why it ignored previous warnings and cybersecurity incidents; Equifax's earnings in the wake of the incident; and details about the company's contract with the Internal Revenue Service. 

Senator Warren began an investigation following the breach and Equifax's delayed and lackluster response, sending letters to Equifax, TransUnion, Experian, and a number of government agencies, to request a thorough investigation into consumer data security of credit reporting agencies. She expanded her investigation a week later into the causes of the breach and the company's response, writing to Equifax's Board of Directors, as well as the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Homeland Security.
Senator Warren has also introduced the Freedom from Equifax Exploitation (FREE) Act to give control over credit and personal information back to consumers. The legislation would allow consumers to freeze and unfreeze access to their credit file for free.  It would also prevent credit reporting agencies from profiting off of consumers' information during a freeze, enhance fraud alert protections, and provide the opportunity for consumers to receive an additional free credit report following the Equifax data breach.  Finally, the bill would force Equifax and the other credit reporting agencies to refund any fees they charged for credit freezes in the wake of the Equifax data breach.
More information about Senator Warren's exchange with Mr. Smith during the Banking Committee hearing is available here