- The Washington Times - Friday, September 8, 2017

The House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on the newly disclosed Equifax breach that compromised the personal information of millions of Americans, its chairman said Friday.

“This is obviously a very serious and very troubling situation and our committee has already begun preparations for a hearing,” committee chair Rep. Jeb Hensarling, Texas Republican, said in a statement about the Equifax breach.

Committee staffers received a briefing from Equifax employees earlier Friday and are working toward scheduling a hearing date, a panel spokesperson told The Hill.

“Given the important role credit scores play in the lives and financial futures of hardworking Americans, Congress must diligently examine the way our credit reporting agencies are operating and impose additional statutory and regulatory reforms to protect the integrity of the country’s credit reporting system,” Rep. Maxine Waters of California, the committee’s ranking Democrat, said Friday.

Equifax, one of the nation’s three largest credit reporting agencies, announced Thursday that a recent data breach may have exposed the personal information of upwards of 143 million Americans, including Social Security numbers, birth dates and other sensitive data, including the credit card information of a couple hundreds thousand victims.

“Large-scale security breaches are becoming all too common,” Mr. Hensarling said Friday. “Every breach leaves consumers exposed and vulnerable to identity theft, fraud and a host of other crimes, and they deserve answers.”

SEE ALSO: Equifax Twitter account angers users with ‘Happy Friday!’ greeting after massive data breach

The initial breach happened as far back as May and was discovered by Equifax on July 29, the firm said Thursday. Equifax has contracted a leading cybersecurity firm and is actively working with federal law enforcement officials, the agency said.

Attorneys general in New York, Illinois and Connecticut announced plans to probe the breach Friday, and Rep. Ted Lieu, California Democrat, has called on the House Judiciary Committee to hold a hearing of its own and take testimony from the other “Big Three” credit raters, Experian and TransUnion.

“Ultimately, consumer credit agencies should be one of our lines of defense against cyberattacks, and it is deeply disturbing whenever a firm that holds such valuable information gets breached,” Mr. Lieu said Friday morning. “Congress has a strong role to play in preventing such attacks on our financial and IT infrastructure, and must hold those entrusted with our most sensitive data to account.”

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