Today, at a full committee hearing to discuss the massive security breach at Equifax, one of the nation’s largest credit reporting agencies, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, delivered the following opening statement:
As Prepared for Delivery
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The massive breach at Equifax and the company’s subsequent failures are a lapse on a scale we have never before seen. Equifax’s failure to safeguard consumer data is all the more egregious because the impacted consumers never chose to do business with Equifax, and because of the broken business model of our country’s credit reporting agencies, these consumers can’t end their relationship with Equifax. They can’t shop around for a better deal. They are literally stuck with this company.
So I am very interested in what Equifax will do moving forward to provide full redress for all of those who have been harmed. I am also interested in why Equifax has sent this Committee a witness today without the authority to commit Equifax to future action. The Members of this Committee need to hear not just about what has happened, but also about what Equifax plans to do moving forward. So, I already know that this hearing won’t answer all of the questions I and other Members have.
This is why Committee Democrats are requesting a Minority Day hearing, to get more answers to the questions surrounding not only this breach but also its impact on consumers and solutions for consumers moving forward.
For example, I for one want to make sure that credit reporting agencies do not inappropriately profit off of this incident, by exploiting consumers’ legitimate fears. Now is not the time to focus on how to sell consumers more products. Now is the time to fix what has been broken.
But this breach and Equifax’s woeful response are just the tip of the iceberg. The whole credit reporting system needs a complete overhaul. That’s why I re-introduced H.R. 3755, the Comprehensive Consumer Credit Reporting Reform Act. This legislation would, among other things, shift the burden of removing credit report mistakes to credit reporting agencies and away from consumers. And my bill would also shrink the importance of credit reports in our lives, by limiting the use of credit reports in employment checks and limiting when CRAs can collect information on consumers. It is time to end the stranglehold that Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian have on consumers’ lives.