Hirono Pushes Equifax to End Practice that Punishes Consumers
Approximately 143 Million Americans’ Identities Released in Equifax Data Breach
Current Equifax Agreements Limit Consumer Ability to Pursue Class Action Lawsuits
WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Senators Mazie K. Hirono, Al Franken (D-Minn.), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) called on Equifax—the credit bureau that recently made public a data breach affecting 143 million Americans—to completely end its use of forced arbitration agreements, which limit the ability of consumers to pursue actions in public courts in response to corporate wrongdoing.
In a letter sent today, Senator Hirono and 19 Senate Democrats pressured Equifax CEO Richard Smith to drop support for and the use of forced arbitration clauses in consumer agreements.
The Senators also called on Equifax to clarify its position on a new rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to limit the use of forced arbitration in the financial services sector.
Equifax, one of the three biggest credit bureaus in the United States, gathers and stores personal information ranging from Social Security numbers to home addresses and tracks the consumer financial information—like loans and credit card payment history—that serves as the basis for Americans’ credit scores. Late last week, Equifax broke the news that their databases were breached in a massive cybersecurity attack earlier this summer, compromising the sensitive information of approximately 143 million Americans.
The letter, which you can read below or by clicking here, was also signed by Sens. Tom Udall (D-N. Mex.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N. Dak.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N. Mex.).
September 11, 2017
Mr. Richard F. Smith, CEO
Dear Mr. Smith:
While we appreciate Equifax’s speedy response, the breach, as well as the public reaction to the company’s use of forced arbitration, underscore the need for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) recently finalized rule that would prospectively limit the use of forced arbitration clauses and reopen the courtroom doors for consumers. As such, we ask that you clarify your position on the CFPB’s rule, and whether, in the wake of this unprecedented breach of consumers’ personal and financial information, your company supports legislation that would deny consumers access to a court of law.
Moreover, Equifax is currently lobbying the United States Senate related to the CFPB’s rule that would prospectively limit the use of forced arbitration clauses. Presumably, Equifax is seeking to reverse the CFPB’s rule and limit their liability via repeal legislation, S.J. Res 47. We therefore ask that Equifax clarify its position on this legislation following the breach. We are hopeful that Equifax will use this unfortunate event to reconsider its broader support of pre-dispute, forced arbitration.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter.
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