We can’t let the CFPB give Equifax a free pass
“…Cordray resigned in November and was replaced by Mulvaney, President Donald Trump’s budget chief. The CFPB effort against Equifax has sputtered since then, said several government and industry sources, raising questions about how Mulvaney will police a data-warehousing industry that has enormous sway over how much consumers pay to borrow money.”
Remember back in September, when Equifax was breached, and the personal data of 145 million Americans was compromised? Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, birth dates, addresses—it all became loot for enterprising identity thieves.
I’ll admit that after this horrible fiasco, I maintained some hope that justice would be served. After all, the breach set off alarm bells across the federal government, turning heads at the Federal Reserve, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and—perhaps most importantly—the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Heads, it seemed, were going to roll.
But it looks like the CFPB watchdog has lost its teeth under its new Trump-appointed head, Mick Mulvaney. Under its previous director, Richard Cordray, the bureau recovered $12 billion for Americans cheated by financial institutions. Under Mulvaney, the CFPB is inexplicably easing up its investigation of one of the largest financial security breaches in history.
Identity theft is the fastest-growing crime in the country, and it’s serious. Say someone takes out a credit card in your name. Even if you avoid paying for any fraudulent charges, it can wreck your credit score for a long time—putting you in hot water if you need a new credit card or a loan for a car or a home. Identity theft can even affect your kid. So it’s absolutely crucial that the CFPB—new leadership or not—continues to make this a top priority. The Equifax breach was preventable: A security patch wasn’t installed when it should have been, allowing hackers to exploit a vulnerability that Equifax had known about for months. Who is going to hold the credit reporting agency accountable if not the CFPB?
While the regulatory agency sorts itself out, you can take steps to protect yourself if you were affected by the Equifax breach. But we’ll all be watching Director Mulvaney. We can’t afford another financial collapse—the CFPB needs to stay strong and independent. We deserve nothing less.