Boston – Last week, Equifax has reported the loss of information for an additional 2.4 million Americans, nearly six months after its massive data breach was first reported. This is yet another reason why MASSPIRG is urging Congress to stop current efforts to let Equifax and the other credit bureaus off the hook for data breaches. We’re also calling on the Massachusetts state Legislature to give consumers more control over their financial information.
“Why did it take Equifax so long to disclose this additional stolen information? And why is Congress working on a data breach notification bill that exempts Equifax, the other credit bureaus, and all banks?” asked Edward Laird, State Board Treasurer for MASSPIRG Students. “In addition to raising more questions over Equifax’s many failures, these new revelations of stolen information show the urgent need for action.”
The newly reported stolen information - names and partial driver’s license numbers - could be used to “phish” for even more personal information and to commit identity theft. Consumers should beware fraudulent emails and phone calls asking to verify their personal or financial information.
State legislators, including here in Massachusetts, have introduced a number of bills this year to give consumers more tools to protect themselves and hold the credit reporting agencies accountable for data breaches. Meanwhile, Congress is likely to soon consider a bill that requires merchants, telecommunication companies and some others to notify the public when they are hacked but continues to exempt Equifax, other credit bureaus and all banks from such breach notification. The draft bill also preempts, or overrides, stronger state data security or breach notice laws.
“Instead of moving on legislation that would let Equifax off the hook, Congress should follow the lead of many states and give consumers more control over their financial information,” Laird said.
MASSPIRG Students works to save the planet, defend the public interest, and protect consumers. To achieve that, we need to imagine what society should look like in the future, and we need to overcome opposition by special interests in the present to get there. The future belongs to young people. It's up to us to dream it up, and our idealism, energy, and vision will build the people power to make it a reality. We have a two-fold mission to win positive reforms on issues that affect us and our society and to train students to be engaged in civics and democracy.
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