November 09, 2017

Duckworth Slams Equifax CEO for Failing to Safeguard Veterans’ Personal Information


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] - U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) delivered powerful remarks sharply criticizing Equifax executives in a Senate Commerce Committee hearing yesterday for putting our nation's Veterans at significant financial risk and doing too little to protect them in the wake of the company's recent massive data breach. Speaking to Equifax CEO Paulino do Rego Barros, Jr., Duckworth outlined the ways in which Veterans are specifically put at greater risk of fraud and abuse as a result of Equifax's security failures than many other Americans as she sought a commitment from the company to proactively do more to protect those Veterans. Barros refused to commit to doing so. Video of their exchange is available here.

"Our Veterans risked their lives to defend and protect the rights of their fellow Americans-including the ability of those running Equifax to make money off of those same Veterans' private financial information," said Senator Duckworth. "It's simply inexcusable that Equifax, after putting those who've defended this country at great personal risk, refuse to undo some of the damage they've done by helping protect our Veterans."

During the hearing, Senator Duckworth pressed Equifax to explain its failure to promptly notify the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs about how the theft of Veterans' Social Security numbers put the security of tens of millions of Veterans' disability benefits at risk. Duckworth also asked Equifax to commit to protecting Veterans and servicemembers' personal information and to work with the VA, with Veterans Service Organizations and with individual Veterans to provide support and services including unlimited, free credit freezes and lifetime credit monitoring.

Senator Duckworth has consistently worked to support and defend the rights of our Veterans, including being a vocal critic of the recent Republican effort to overturn the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) arbitration rule. The rule would have protected servicemembers and Veterans who have been the victims of fraud, abuse and predatory businesses practices by preventing corporations like Wells Fargo and Equifax from forcing consumers into forced arbitration proceedings where outcomes consistently favor businesses. On October 24th, she gave a floor speech detailing how servicemembers are particularly vulnerable to these predatory loans, scams, abuses and fraud.