- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 8, 2018

Dozens of Democrats have demanded answers from the director of President Trump’s Office of Management and Budget over reports that he recently halted the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s investigation into last year’s massive Equifax breach.

Thirty-one senators signed their names to a letter released Thursday requesting an update on the CFPB’s Equifax probe, including every Democratic member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, as well as Sens. Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, both independents, in light of a recent Reuters report that portrayed the investigation as effectively over.

The Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission and CFPB each launched investigations into Equifax after the credit-rating agency revealed in September that a security incident had exposed the personal information of roughly 145 million Americans, including their names, Social Security numbers, birthdates and addresses. The official who initiated the CFPB’s probe subsequently resigned, however, and his replacement, OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, has since halted the bureau’s investigation, Reuters reported Sunday, citing multiple officials familiar with the matter.

“We are deeply troubled by recent news reports that, under Director Mulvaney’s leadership, the CFPB has stopped its investigation into the Equifax breach,” the senators wrote in a letter addressed to both the OMB chief and CFPB Acting Director Leandra English.

“The CFPB is currently the only federal agency with supervisory authority over the largest consumer reporting agencies. Consumer reporting agencies and the data they collect play a central role in consumers’ access to credit and the fair and competitive pricing of that credit. Therefore, the CFPB has a clear duty to supervise consumer reporting agencies, investigate how this breach has or will harm consumers, and bring enforcement actions as necessary,” the senators wrote.

Led by Sen. Brian Schatz, Hawaii Democrat, the lawmakers’ letter specifically seeks information on the status of CFPB’s Equifax probe, including whether or not it was called off and by whom, among other details.

“Not only do we need to better understand how this breach has impacted consumers, we also must ensure that consumer reporting agencies are taking the steps necessary to mitigate this harm — not misleading consumers or taking advantage of the situation for their own financial gain,” their letter said.

The CFPB said it received the letter but declined to comment on it, The Hill reported Thursday. The lawmakers have requested a response by Feb. 19.

Published Monday, Feb. 5, the Reuters report said that Mr. Mulvaney has neither issued subpoenas nor sought testimony in relation to the Equifax probe since being appointed to lead the CFPB by Mr. Trump after its former director, Richard Cordray, resigned in November.

“Acting Director Mulvaney takes data security issues very seriously,” his senior advisor, John Czwartacki, said in a statement earlier this week. “Under his direction, the CFPB is working with our partners across government on Equifax’s data breach and response. We are committed to enforcing the law. As policy, we do not confirm or deny enforcement or supervisory matters.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Democrat and a co-signer of the letter led by Mr. Schatz, earlier this week urged the FTC to broaden its Equifax probe in wake of the Reuters report.

“In light of this concerning development, I urge the FTC to consider increasing the resources and manpower dedicated to its own investigation of the Equifax breach announced in September 2017,” Ms. Klobuchar wrote Monday to acting FTC Chairwoman Maureen Ohlhausen and Commissioner Terrell McSweeny.

More than 240 lawsuits have been filed across Equifax over the data breach, the credit rater said previously. The breach likely cost the company upwards of $75 million in just the fourth quarter of 2017, Equifax said previously.

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