The Federal Trade Commission is the latest government agency being asked to investigate the recent Equifax breach after receiving a formal request Wednesday from Sen. Mark Warner, Virginia Democrat.
Mr. Warner, a member of the Banking, Budget and Finance committees and cofounder of the bipartisan Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, has asked the FTC to consider whether the credit-rating agency is adequately prepared to protect “the enormous amounts of sensitive data they collect and commercialize” in the wake of suffering a massive recently disclosed data breach affecting upwards of 143 million Americans, his office said Wednesday.
“The implications of a breach of this magnitude are sobering, as this identifying data forms the basis for consumer credit and other financial transactions,” Mr. Warner wrote in the letter. “In ways similar to the financial service industry’s systemic risk designation, I fear that firms like Equifax may illustrate a set of institutions whose activities, left unchecked, can significantly threaten the economic security of Americans.”
The letter is addressed to FTC chairwoman Maureen Ohlhausen and requests a response within the next two weeks concerning the commission’s handling of the Equifax breach and data-security practices in general with respect to the nation’s leading credit raters.
The FTC acknowledged receiving the senator’s letter Wednesday but declined to comment.
Equifax announced last week that hackers recently compromised the names, Social Security numbers and birth dates of more than 143 million Americans, as well as credit-card numbers concerning a couple hundred thousand victims. The initial breach happened in May and occurred as the result of a security vulnerability affecting an online web application, Equifax said.
The chairs of the Senate and House Finance Committee have asked Equifax for further details about the breach, and the incident is currently being examined by attorneys general in multiple states in addition to federal investigators.
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