Lawmakers slam 'boneheaded' Equifax executives for failing to appear before Congress

Equifax Headquarters AP FBN

The House Financial Services committee on Wednesday held an additional hearing on the Equifax (NYSE:EFX) data breach, which affected the personal information of more than 145 million Americans, but not one representative from any of the three major credit reporting bureaus accepted the invitation to appear before lawmakers.

“I find that appalling that they are ignoring a request to come before this committee,” Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) said.

Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.), who hails from the state where Equifax is headquartered, went further, calling it a disappointment and an insult that no representatives bothered to appear.

“How … can [we] even begin to fix this problem if these boneheaded executives and current CEO will refuse to come before Congress and to answer questions? How can they expect to get a seat at the table? How can we respond to the American people?” he asked, before adding that Congress should ask for a subpoena to get “their lazy asses … [to] respond to the American people.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) likened Equifax’s perceived avoidance of responsibility to Enron executives who “pled the fifth before Congress.”

More than one of the witnesses present at the House testimony on Wednesday said consumers will always have to worry about their security forever if their birth dates and Social Security numbers were compromised in this hack.

“We will all be looking over our shoulders for the rest of our lives,” Ms. Chi Chi Wu, a staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center, said.

Equifax said hackers accessed files on its consumer complaint database between mid-May and July of 2017. The company was made aware of the breach on July 29 and on Aug. 1 and Aug. 2 three top executives sold nearly $2 million worth of company stock. The breach was disclosed to the public on Sept. 7.

Congress also discussed penalties, and one witness indicated financial consequences may be the only way to get the company’s attention.

“A way to get the attention of a company like Equifax is to … require them to internalize the costs of this breach that they seem so eager to externalize onto the American public,” Ms. Sara Cable, director of Data Privacy and Security at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office said.