U.S. House, Senate Democrats seek details from financial firms on data breaches

Leading Democrats in both houses of Congress sent letters on Tuesday to 16 major banks and other financial firms requesting detailed information about recent data breaches and briefings from corporate data security officials.

Among the companies targeted in letters sent by Senator Elizabeth Warren, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, and Representative Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, were banks, investment firms and other financial service providers.

"The increasing number of cyber attacks and data breaches is unprecedented and poses a clear and present danger to our nation's economic security," Cummings and Warren wrote.

"Each successive cyber attack and data breach not only results in hefty costs and liabilities for businesses, but exposes consumers to identity theft and other fraud, as well as a host of other cyber crimes," they added.

The lawmakers requested details of all data breaches experienced over the past year, the number of customers affected, any findings by forensic investigators, information about who is suspected to have carried out the attacks, and descriptions of new cyber-security measures the companies instituted after discovering data breaches.

In letters to two of the 16 companies, Citigroup and U.S. Bank, Cummings and Warren also requested information about how possible data breaches might have affected their handling of government purchase and charge cards under contracts with the General Services Administration, the government's housekeeping agency.

Other institutions to whom the Democratic legislators are sending letters include ADP, Bank of America, Bank of NY Mellon, Bank of the West, Deutsche Bank, E-Trade, Fidelity, GE, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, Morgan Stanley, PNC, Regions and Wells Fargo. (Reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Peter Cooney)