Federal investigation into Equifax hack said to wither, even with more data exposed

New reports suggest scope of the Equifax breach was even greater than believed

equifax
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
Consumer credit reporting agency Equifax stunned the world late last year, admitting to major hacks in the spring and summer of 2017, exposing credit data on millions of consumers across multiple countries including the U.S., U.K., and Canada. Now, Reuters alleges that one major investigation into the hack is spinning its wheels.

Sources say the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a federal agency that oversees consumer protection in the financial arena, has allowed its investigation to wither. The CFPB, then led by Richard Cordray, began its investigation in September 2017. Cordray resigned in November, however. Mick Mulvaney, appointed as Cordray’s replacement by President Donald Trump, may not be pursuing the investigation with vigor.

Specifically, Mulvaney hasn’t ordered subpoenas or sought testimony from company executives. Sources also claim the CFPB decided not to pursue a plan to test Equifax’s data protection. Finally, the agency is said to be uncooperative with regulators from the Federal Reserve, among others.

This is particularly concerning, given a new report from CNN Money that suggests that the severity of the breach — in terms of data compromised — may be even worse than initially believed. Customer information like tax IDs and driver’s license details may have also been accessed in the hack, as per documents Equifax handed over to the Senate banking Committee. Initially, Equifax noted that some driver’s license numbers were exposed, but new evidence suggests that both license state and issue date may also be at risk.

On Friday, Senator Elizabeth Warren penned a letter to CEO Paulino do Rego Barros Jr. regarding the spotty information Equifax has provided to Congress thus far. “As your company continues to issue incomplete, confusing and contradictory statements and hide information from Congress and the public, it is clear that five months after the breach was publicly announced, Equifax has yet to answer this simple question in full: what was the precise extent of the breach?” Warren wrote.

Equifax has responded that the information is not be considered “exhaustive,” but is simply a list of “common personal information” often desired by hackers.

As it stands, The CFPB isn’t the only organization investigating the Equifax hack. The Federal Trade Commission has its own investigation and has issued subpoenas. Every state attorney has its own open investigation, and hundreds of class-action lawsuits have been filed.

Even so, a pullback in the CFPB investigation would be significant. Its stated purpose most directly intersects with Equifax’s services, and the agency is known to slap credit agencies with significant fines. It levied $17.6 million in fines against TransUnion and Equifax in January 2017 over deceptive pricing of credit reports. While the FTC has also hit companies with major fines, it doesn’t have an extensive history of pursuing credit agencies for fines of that magnitude.

That could change. A bill called the Data Breach Prevention and Compensation Act was introduced in January, and part of it would grant the FTC more oversight over credit agencies. It’s estimated that the bill, if made law, would let the FTC hit Equifax with a $1.5 billion fine. Congress has yet to vote on the bill.

The CFPB hasn’t commented on the story by Reuters. Transunion, however, told Reuters in a statement that, “We believe that it is clear that the CFPB was not given legal authority to supervise any financial institutions with respect to cybersecurity.” Equifax also has not provided a statement on the matter.

This development is just the latest twist in the saga of the Equifax and, if correct, suggests the federal government’s response will be meager, even with the additional evidence of compromised data. Still, as noted, there are hundreds of lawsuits pending, from states and class-action suits. It will no doubt be years before the legal fallout settles.

Update: The Equifax breach may have exposed even more information than initially believed. 

Deals

Breathe easy, stay warm with Amazon’s one-day deal on a Dyson air purifier fan

Dyson is a leader in bringing consumers the latest in heating, cooling, and air purification. Its Pure Hot + Cool Link HP02 does all three — and for today only, it’s on sale on Amazon for $359. That’s $241 off the suggested retail…
Social Media

Snapchat facial recognition could soon power a new portrait mode, code suggests

Digging into Snapchat's code suggests a handful of upcoming camera features, including a portrait mode. The feature appears to use facial recognition A.I. to blur the background. The code also suggests an updated camera interface.
Computing

AMD Ryzen 3000 chips could have 16 cores, 5GHz turbo frequency

AMD's Ryzen 3000 series could be the most powerful range of CPUs ever made if the latest rumors are to be believed. They suggest that the top-tier 3850X could have 16 cores and reach clock speeds of 5.1GHz.
Computing

AMD Navi graphic cards could offer RTX 2070-like performance for $250

New rumors about AMD's upcoming Navi graphics cards suggest that they could compete very favorably with the midrange RTX-series GPUs from Nvidia, but at a much more affordable price point.
Computing

Is your PC slow? Here's how to restore Windows 10 to factory settings

Computers rarely work as well after they accumulate files and misconfigure settings. Thankfully, with this guide, you'll be able to restore your PC to its original state by learning how to factory reset Windows.
Computing

The Titan RTX graphics card is nearly here. Here's what you need to know

The Nvidia Titan RTX is arguably the most powerful consumer graphics card ever made, even if it's not really aimed at consumers. It bridges the 2080 Ti and RTX Quadro cards with boat loads of power.
Computing

Leak reveals that Nvidia’s RTX 2060 gaming chipsets will be headed to laptops

The latest leaks of Nvidia's upcoming RTX 2060 have given performance benchmarks and further detail about the future chipset and its capabilities, while a RTX 2060 Max-Q variant has also been discovered for thin and light gaming machines.
Computing

Looking for an Apple MacBook below $900? Woot has you covered

If you're looking for a great deal on an Apple MacBook, then Amazon's Woot may just have what you have been seeking. It has Macbooks available for only $810 with Intel M3 CPUs, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB SSDs.
Computing

Want to save a webpage as a PDF? Just follow these steps

Need to quickly save and share a webpage? The best way is to learn how to save a webpage as a PDF file, as they're fully featured and can handle images and text with ease. Here's how.
Computing

New rumors say the Pixelbook 2 could show up at CES 2019

What will the Pixelbook 2 be like? Google hasn't announced it, but thanks to rumors and leaks, we think we have a pretty good idea of what the potential new flagship Chromebook will be like.
Computing

A dead pixel doesn't mean a dead display. Here's how to repair it

Dead pixel got you down? We don't blame you. Check out our guide on how to fix a dead pixel and save yourself that costly screen replacement or an unwanted trip to your local repair shop.
Computing

You could spend $1,000 on an iPhone, or buy one of these awesome laptops instead

Finding a decent laptop is easy, but finding one under $1,000 is a bit tricky. Luckily, we've taken some of the guesswork out of picking out a budget laptop. Here are some of our favorites, the best laptops under $1,000.
Computing

Don't know what to do with all your old DVDs? Here's how to convert them to MP4

Given today's rapid technological advancements, physical discs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Check out our guide on how to convert a DVD to MP4, so you can ditch discs for digital files.
Computing

Here’s how to install Windows on a Chromebook

If you want to push the functionality of your new Chromebook to another level, and Linux isn't really your deal, you can try installing Windows on a Chromebook. Here's how to do so, just in case you're looking to nab some Windows-only…