The former CEO of Equifax, Richard Smith, had a tough week. Smith faced Congress to explain how in the world 145 million Americans’ personal information was compromised on his watch. His answer, blame it on one guy who was supposed to update software. U.S. Senator Al Franken was unimpressed with the answer and joined me on Afternoons Live to talk about it.
Franken has joined other Senators to hold data brokers – like Equifax – responsible for what they do with your personal information. What’s different and frustrating with these data brokers is consumers don’t necessarily sign up for their services. Americans didn’t go to Equifax’s website and register. Rather banks, lenders, and other parties use them for your information. At no fault or knowledge of our own, our information was breached and potentially stolen. Yet, we are expected to pay to right their wrong. To me, that’s unacceptable.
In Equifax’s situation, they took weeks to notify the public of the breach. Then, they temporarily said they will give you a free year of credit monitoring but you’ll need to give up your right to sue. Both inadequate. Both infuriating. They since have removed that clause.
There seem to be two tracks going on in Washington. One, to strengthen consumer protection from big banks and data brokers. That’s Franken’s approach. The other, to gut consumer protections and make it harder for class action law suites against places like Equifax and Wells Fargo. That’s Congressman Kevin Cramer’s approach. I wrote about Cramer’s vote to gut consumer protection in June. This bill is now in the Senate. It should be defeated.
Editors Note: I host Afternoons Live on KFGO. The show airs 2-4, Monday through Friday on 790AM and streams worldwide at KFGO.com. I will continue to write and manage ND xPlains. When I have guests involved in North Dakota politics, I will try and share the podcast right here on ND xPlains. I hope you’ll listen!