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Just two months after Equifax fessed up to its massive breach impacting over 143 million Americans, public interest groups are demanding that Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax explain whether they are actually profiting off this massive cyber-mistake.
American for Financial Reform, the Consumer Federation of America, the National Consumer Law Center, U.S. PIRG, and other nonprofit advocacy groups wrote a letter to the CEOs of all three companies asking for detailed information on how the data breach might be leading to higher revenues in credit freeze fees and credit monitoring services. The letter can be found here.
"We want to know whether and to what extent Equifax -- and the other big credit bureaus -- are making more money directly as a result of the data breach that harmed to many millions of people,” said Lisa Donner, executive director of Americans for Financial Reform. “Are these companies profiting from direct-to-consumer products sold in response to this frightening event?”
In the last few weeks, companies have been reporting their earnings to Wall Street. While consumers are scrambling to protect their personal information from hackers and thieves after this massive data breach, company executives are crowing about their profitability – a clear sign of the lack of accountability in this industry.
"Equifax, Experian and TransUnion are making a bad situation for consumers worse by forcing us to pay them fees to help protect our own good names after one of them failed to do so," said Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director at U.S. PIRG.
TransUnion boasted of “very strong quarterly performance” with revenue up 13.8% and beating the expectations of Wall Street analysts. Even Equifax reported its second-best quarter ever, with sales rising and earning $835 million – in the same quarter the company finally came clean on its massive data breach.
“It's bad enough that half of Americans are paying a psychological price from this breach, forced to look over our shoulders for identity theft for the rest of our lives," said Chi Chi Wu, staff attorney at National Consumer Law Center. "We need to know if the TransUnion, Experian and even Equifax are making big profits because American consumers are also paying a hefty monetary price."
To learn more about freeze fees in your state, check out US PIRG’s freeze fee map. Learn more from the Consumer Federation of America about how consumers and military families can protect themselves from Equifax’s massive data breach.
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