Five months after the disclosure of the massive Equifax data breach, federal scrutiny of how the credit-reporting bureau allowed the hack to occur is easing significantly, according to news reports. Mick Mulvaney, interim head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is “pulling back” from a full investigation, finance news site CNBC.com reports.
In September 2017, when Equifax said that “criminals” had exploited a web portal application and exposed millions of Americans to identity fraud, the former head of the CFPB, Richard Cordray, launched a probe. That was followed by hearings on cybersecurity in Washington and actions by states to protect their residents.
Feds are pulling back on investigating Equifax, report says
But Cordray is no longer with the agency and Mulvaney, the White House’s budget chief, has temporarily taken over the helm of the CFPB, which is the Federal Trade Commission’s consumer watchdog agency.
Citing multiple sources, CNBC.com reports that Mulvaney has “shelved” plans of “on-the-ground tests” of how Equifax safeguards consumer data and has not taken the routine steps of even ordering subpoeneas.
All this indicates that Equifax may be off the hook — but that doesn’t mean consumers are in the clear by any means.
The hack exposed Americans’ names, addresses, birth dates, Social Security numbers and even some driver’s license information. That means that down the line — one year or even 10 years later — this stolen trove of information could be activated to open a credit accounts or even trafficked on the dark web.
Because of the threat of financial ruin, consumers must take a proactive approach to protecting their information for the foreseeable future. As part of a two-pronged approach, money expert Clark Howard says, “It’s imperative that you freeze your credit with all three main credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.” Here’s how to do it:
2 simple steps you should do to protect your personal info
1. Sign up for Credit Karma’s free credit monitoring: Go to CreditKarma.com and sign up for a free account to monitor your credit and identity. The company will notify you via email anytime it detects unusual activity on your account. You also get advice on what factors can affect your credit scores and how to remedy them.
2. Freeze your credit with all three main credit bureaus: Freezing your credit files is the#1 to stop hackers from using — and abusing — your data. Clark says you should freeze your credit even if the Equifax hack never occurred.