There is a good chance your personal information was compromised in a data breach last September. About half of all Americans were exposed.
Equifax, the credit reporting agency, later reported that more than 145 million Americans had their personal information — including Social Security numbers, birthdates and addresses — compromised.
Many of you were probably offered free credit monitoring and identity protection services for free from Equifax. That may have satisfied you.
Here are a few things you may not remember.
The data breach actually occurred in May, but the company waited weeks before making it public. During that time frame, three executives sold nearly $2 million of company stock.
So if you have any doubts about whom executives at big companies care about, that should settle the matter.
It should also be a flashback to the recession of 2008 when big banks and financial institutions wrecked the economy with risky lending practices. Not only did no one ever go to jail, taxpayers bailed out the big banks and many of their executives were rewarded with bonuses.
We were told by politicians it would never happen again.
Out of those ashes, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created to ensure similar financial abuses never occurred.
The CFPB was granted unprecedented independence free of political influence and it seemed to be working. Since it was formed in 2010, the CFPB boasts it has recovered nearly $12 billion in refunds to consumers.
That’s big money.
But its work also made it a target for big business. The Trump administration has said the agency acts too aggressively.
So when the CFPB director resigned in November, President Trump immediately appointed his budget officer, Mick Mulvaney, as temporary director. Mulvaney has quickly transformed the agency’s mission to protecting big business instead of consumers.
That appears to be continuing.
While you may have been distracted by the “memo” and other theatrics in the nation’s capital, Reuters was reporting that the CFPB is scaling back its investigation into Equifax.
Reuters reported that Mulvaney has not sought any subpoenas or sworn testimony from executives. The agency has also delayed any plans to test Equifax’s data protection practices, while also turning down offers from other federal regulators for help in on-site credit bureau exams.
It sounds like they are being let off the hook.
Mulvaney has not stopped there.
Just days before the Reuters report, enforcement powers were taken away from the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity, an arm of the CFPB.
The office previously used enforcement powers to gain settlements from lenders who had charged minorities higher interest rates. Instead of enforcement of those anti-discrimination practices and oversight of those companies, the office will now focus on “advocacy, coordination and education.”
That’s like telling police officers that instead of making arrests, they should explain to perpetrators why their actions are unacceptable.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created to police the financial sector for further abuses and protect our retirement funds.
Those enforcement powers and that responsibility are gradually being eroded by Mulvaney and the Trump administration.
It’s not the stock market you have to worry about, it’s the big corporations that will be allowed to get away with murder.