(Congress, again doing what it does best -- the unadulterated display of 
self-serving idiocy and promoting the utter abrogation of responsibility for 
damages to the American people in the pursuit of profits.  --rick)

Senate banking bill rewards Equifax despite privacy breaches

Newly released provisions would allow the company and its industry peers to 
enter the mortgage market while shielding them from consumer lawsuits.


03/12/2018 07:09 PM EDT

Equifax’s role in the biggest consumer data breach in U.S. history isn’t 
stopping Congress from giving the giant credit reporting company sweeping 
protection from lawsuits while allowing it to expand its offerings into the 
mortgage business.

Those favors for Equifax and its peers in the credit reporting industry are 
among the surprise provisions in a major banking and financial deregulation 
bill that the Senate is set to pass this week.

The changes, made public only last Wednesday, are providing new ammunition to 
critics of the banking legislation, which would scale back regulations imposed 
after the 2008 financial crisis. Congress has yet to pass any laws creating 
stiffer penalties for companies like Equifax, whose security practices allowed 
hackers to steal highly sensitive data on as many as 148 million U.S. customers 
last year.

"This is the credit reporting agencies, one of whom caused more than half of 
the U.S. adult population to get hacked and to have their Social Security 
numbers in the hands of thieves," National Consumer Law Center staff attorney 
Chi Chi Wu said. "They really should not have that political clout right now."

The Senate is on track to pass the banking legislation around the middle of 
this week after a procedural vote Monday evening. The credit-reporting issues 
could remain in play when the House takes up the bill.

On the surface, the bill appears to impose a large burden on Equifax, 
TransUnion and Experian, which would be required for the first time to provide 
free credit freezes for consumers and free credit monitoring for members of the 

But lobbyists for the companies quietly prevailed in a months-long fight to 
secure language that would shield the firms from consumer lawsuits stemming 
from the free credit monitoring requirement. Another add-on — which could have 
a considerable impact on the housing market — could give a joint venture 
operated by the three companies an entry into providing credit scores for 
aspiring homeowners applying for mortgages.

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