Among the most talked about news headlines last year was the massive Equifax data breach. However, it looks like the company is being let off the hook.
Equifax announced in September 2017 that hackers stole personal data it had collected on approximately 143 million Americans. Richard Cordray, then the CFPB director, authorized an investigation that month, said former officials familiar with the probe. Cordray, however, resigned in November and was replaced by Mick Mulvaney, President Donald Trump’s budget chief.
The CFPB effort against Equifax has sputtered since Mulvaney took over, said several government and industry sources, raising questions about how he would police a data-warehousing industry that has enormous sway over how much consumers pay to borrow money.
The CFPB has the tools to examine a data breach like Equifax, said John Czwartacki, a spokesman, but the agency is not permitted to acknowledge an open investigation. “The bureau has the desire, expertise, and know-how in-house to vigorously pursue hypothetical matters such as these,” he said.
Three sources say, though, Mulvaney has not ordered subpoenas against Equifax or sought sworn testimony from executives, routine steps when launching a full-scale probe. Meanwhile, the CFPB has shelved plans for on-the-ground tests of how Equifax protects data, an idea backed by Cordray.
Reuters also reports the CFPB recently pushed back when officials at the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency offered to help perform on-site examinations of credit bureaus like Equifax, Transunion, and Experian.
The bureau under Cordray leveled billions of dollars in fines to companies and organizations it deemed to have taken advantage of American consumers. It was widely expected that the watchdog agency would eventually look into the breach, which went undetected and unreported for months and has drawn condemnation from both Republicans and Democrats during subsequent cybersecurity hearings on Capitol Hill. However, it looks like things have taken a slowdown, and Equifax could be let off the hook despite the considerable damage caused.