The US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) probe into the Equifax data breach has been put on hold. Maybe killed off completely. Reuters is reporting that CFPB head, Mick Mulvaney, has walked away from the regulator’s authorized investigation into the matter. Huh? How can you just stop an investigation midway through? Or was the investigation started at all? Mulvaney took over in November and hasn’t issued a subpoena against Equifax, nor has the CFPB pursued any sworn testimony under oath from Equifax executives. So what gives?
Democratic senators and consumer advocates have been urging the Trump administration to resume an investigation into how Equifax failed to protect the personal data of millions of consumers. This came after the Reuters report. I will ask this question once again, but I’m not sure that I have an answer – so what gives? What we do know is that Mulvaney was Trump’s former budget chief. While I’m not suggesting that means anything, at the same time we can assume that it does. Which is, he’s a “yes man” and does what he’s told. To me, this is a clear signal that Trump doesn’t want the investigation to continue. But why?
What does Trump have invested in Equifax? In fact, if Trump comes down hard on Equifax, it becomes beneficial to the government, doesn’t it? One interesting piece of information that I would like to share is the fact that the CFPB does have the tools in order to examine a data breach, but they’re not permitted to acknowledge an open investigation. Is that what’s happening here? Or is that just lip service? I think the latter, as the CFPB also recently rebuffed bank regulators at the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency when they offered to help with on-site exams of credit bureaus, said two sources familiar with the matter. Which does make it sound like something isn’t happening in this case.
Equifax is under investigation by every state attorney general and it faces more than 240 class action lawsuits. Has the CFPB taken pity on them? Even if they don’t want to, don’t they have some kind of obligation to do so, regardless? The Federal Trade Commission, however, is examining the breach and the company may face financial penalties. The last time the FTC penalized a major credit bureau was in 2012, a $393,000 settlement with Equifax.
We know what kind of trouble Equifax would be in had some of these rules that are being presented now, been in effect last year. Equifax would be in a world of hurt. The original question I asked of why, still doesn’t have a clear answer. The CFPB is just saying that they’re not going to comment. I can understand that if the investigation is currently open, and even ongoing. But it sounds like nothing is happening. No subpoenas have been issued, and in general, there is no testimony being collected. Which makes you wonder if they ever started investigating in the first place?