Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are demanding answers from Equifax on its cybersecurity breach that compromised the personal information of roughly 143 million Americans.
All 24 Democrats on the committee sent a letter to Equifax CEO Richard Smith on Tuesday asking for information on how the company is planning to make consumers whole and how the hack occurred. The Energy and Commerce Democrats also want to know what steps Equifax, a credit monitoring agency, is taking to protect from future breach.
"Your company profits from collecting highly sensitive personal information from American consumers — it should take serious its responsibility to keep data safe and to inform consumers when its protections fail," the Democrats wrote.
Equifax announced last week hackers gained access to its files from May to July and said customers' personal information, including their names, Social Security numbers, birthdays, addresses, and potentially driver's license numbers had been compromised. The credit monitoring agency estimated roughly 209,000 consumers had their credit card numbers accessed. Hackers also accessed dispute documents, which include personal identifying information, for roughly 182,000 Equifax customers.
The company said it discovered the breach July 29, but did not notify customers until Sept. 7 — more than one month later.
"In order to access credit, and to participate in the modern economy, American consumers have virtually no choice but to entrust their sensitive personal information to the three main credit bureaus, including your company," the Democrats wrote.
"Consumers cannot avoid sharing their personal information with your company by simply choosing to transact business elsewhere, and many consumers may be unaware that your company actually has their personal information. It is critical for companies like yours to protect consumer data, and to inform consumers when those protections fail."
Following the breach, Equifax has become the target of several congressional inquiries, including the letter from the Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee.
On Monday, the top members of the Senate Finance Committee sent its own letter to Smith requesting a timeline of the breach, as well as details on its plan to notify customers whose information was compromised.
The House Energy and Commerce and Financial Services Committees also plan to hold individual hearings on Equifax's data breach.