As Democrats assume control of the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday, a number of fresh sectors – and companies – could come under scrutiny as left-leaning lawmakers take over leadership of congressional committees.
Among those sectors is the credit reporting industry.
Many believe Equifax largely escaped scot-free following a massive breach that compromised the personal data of hundreds of millions of Americans
But that could all be primed to change, especially as Democratic California Rep. Maxine Waters takes the helm of the House Financial Services Committee.
“Now that she's chairwoman … we expect to see the spotlight back on Equifax,” Mike Litt, consumer campaign director at the U.S. PIRG told FOX Business. “Regardless of party affiliation, we hope a new Congress will finally make Equifax pay a price for losing nearly 150 million Social Security numbers.”
More than a year after the hack, which compromised the personal data of more than 147 million Americans, Congress implemented a bill allowing Americans to freeze and unfreeze their credit for free. But many, including the 15-term House member, believe there is more to be done.
Under Waters’ stewardship, the committee is expected to hold another hearing on the issue in early 2019, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.
In a statement to FOX Business, a spokesperson for Equifax said the company would continue to work constructively with lawmakers throughout the coming year.
"Since the 2017 incident, we have taken meaningful steps to enhance our technology and security programs and have worked in good faith with legislators to be transparent, cooperative and shed light on our learnings from the incident in order to enrich the cybersecurity community," a spokesperson said.
Equifax is not the only large U.S. company that Waters is likely to focus on at her new post.
As an advocate for consumer protections, the California Democrat has also called for hearings on Wells Fargo – which has been mired by a number of scandals across most of its major businesses since it was revealed that its retail bank created perhaps millions of fraudulent accounts on behalf of consumers without their consent or knowledge. Waters even called for the “recidivist” megabank to be shut down entirely in a 2017 report.
In a statement to The Los Angeles Times, Waters said she would make it a priority to look into ongoing problems at the bank, in addition to connections between German banking giant Deutsche Bank and President Trump. Another California Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff – who will take over the House Intelligence Committee – has also suggested he might probe Deutsche Bank over its dealings with the president.
In a statement to FOX Business, a spokesperson for Deutsche Bank said it remains committed to cooperating with authorized investigations.
"Our recent record of cooperating with such investigations has been widely recognized by regulators. We intend to keep working in this spirit,” the company spokesperson said.
Wells Fargo also said it is committed to working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, including Congresswoman Waters.
Additionally, Waters has advocated for oversight of the country’s biggest banks, after Republicans worked to ease some of the restrictions put in place under the post-financial crisis regulations known as Dodd-Frank.
Democrats officially take control of the House on Thursday, led by Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. They gained 40 seats in the 2018 midterm elections.