US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Scales Back on Equifax Probe

Feb 5, 2018

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The US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has pulled back on an investigation into how Equifax failed to protect the personal data of around 143 million American consumers in September 2017. Reuters is reporting exclusively, citing people familiar with the matter, that Mick Mulvaney, the head of the CFPB, has essentially put the probe on ice.

When Equifax said in September that it had been hacked, then-CFPB director Richard Cordray authorized an investigation by the bureau. In November, Cordray resigned from his position and was replaced by Mulvaney, President Trump’s budget chief. Since Mulvaney’s appointment, sources familiar with the matter say, the probe has halted.

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney speaks to press during a briefing on the government shutdown, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, January 20, 2018. (Photo by Cheriss May) (Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Mick Mulvaney. Image by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

According to three sources, Mulvaney has not ordered subpoenas against Equifax, nor has he sought any sworn testimony from the company’s executives — normal steps the bureau typically takes when launching a full-scale probe. Plus, the CFPB has suspended its plans for on-the-ground tests of how Equifax protects consumer data.

In addition, the CFPB reportedly rejected help from the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in on-site exams of the credit bureaus.

While Cordray was at the head of the CFPB, the bureau and the Federal Trade Commission agreed to work together on the Equifax inquiry. However, since then, only the FTC has issued a subpoena — something both agencies have the power to do.

Equifax said that it can’t comment on open investigations.

The CFPB’s scaling back of the investigation into the Equifax breach could mean that the credit rating agency responsible for the hack could potentially get away with it without any investigation by the bureau set to protect American consumers. That being said, Equifax is still under investigation by every state attorney general in the country, and the company faces more than 240 class action lawsuits.

In the aftermath of the Equifax hack, the company is now regarded as one of the most hated companies in the US.

Featured image by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

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