Sen. Sherrod Brown Wednesday blasted credit bureau Equifax Inc. for the cyber breach that exposed the financial data of nearly half of all Americans, calling for a Department of Justice and U.S. Security and Exchange Commission investigation and changes in company policies.
He also talked of a plan to introduce legislation to offer consumers up to a decade of free credit monitoring.
In a phone call with reporters, Brown was joined by a Hamilton resident, Bill Durfey, whose data was exposed in the Equifax breach, Brown said.
“He is one of so many in this country who have played by the rules and done so many things right,” Brown said.
Credit reporting bureaus find it “unacceptable” if a consumer misses a credit card payment, Brown said. “Now they have left those people vulnerable to criminals, and we have to hold Equifax accountable.”
The Hamilton resident faulted Equifax for not being “proactive” in notifying consumers affected by the breach.
“They made a press announcement and then left it at that,” Durfey said. “It was two months after the fact.”
He said he is still waiting on an email from Equifax on the final steps on how to protect himself. And he said he was unwilling to pay Equifax to freeze his credit.
“Hell, no. They’re not going to get a nickel from me. They broke it; they own it,” Durfey said.
“I’m not sure Equifax has shown a whole lot of remorse or a lot of urgency to get this fixed,” he added.
Equifax, one of the biggest consumer credit reporting bureau, acknowledged last week it suffered a “cybersecurity incident” that could affect nearly half of U.S. consumers.
Unauthorized access to the company’s data took place from mid-May through July this year, Equifax said. But the company did not alert the public to the breach until late last week, about six weeks after it was uncovered.
The information exposed included names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some cases, driver’s license numbers, the company said.
In addition, credit card numbers for about 209,000 U.S. consumers, and “dispute documents” with personal identifying information for some 182,000 U.S. consumers, were accessed, Equifax also said.
A message seeking comment was sent to Equifax spokespeople.