Future Tense

Report: Consumer Protection Agency Is Severely Limiting Its Investigation Into Equifax

Mick Mulvaney, Trump's budget chief, took over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in November.
Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s budget chief, took over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in November.
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP PHOTO/Getty Images

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will not be conducting a full investigation of Equifax, the credit agency whose trove of Social Security numbers, addresses, credit card details, and other information belonging to more than 140 million people was hacked in May, according to a report from Reuters.

Richard Cordray, the former head of the CFPB, had backed a cybersecurity investigation into Equifax in September. However, he resigned two months later, and President Trump subsequently appointed his budget chief Mick Mulvaney to be head of the bureau.

Reuters now reports that Mulvaney has not taken the basic steps required for a full-scale probe, including ordering subpoenas, soliciting sworn testimony from executives, and conducting “on-the-ground tests” of Equifax’s data security measures. The CFPB has further rejected offers from the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to help with these tests.

Mulvaney’s bureau had agreed to work with the Federal Trade Commission to look into Equifax. Yet, only the FTC has issued a subpoena thus far. Every state attorney general is also investigating the company.

A spokesperson for the CFPB told Reuters that the bureau cannot comment on open investigations, but did say, “The bureau has the desire, expertise, and know-how in-house to vigorously pursue hypothetical matters such as these.”

The administration has in its first year repeatedly attempted to weaken the CFPB as part of an overall push to reduce regulations on the financial sector. Mulvaney was a known critic of the bureau before his tenure and just last month declined to ask for any funding for this quarter.

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Aaron Mak writes about technology for Slate.