Oregon Rep. Greg Walden Questions Former Equifax CEO

Oregon Rep. Greg Walden Questions Former Equifax CEO

However, a patch for that vulnerability had been available for months before the breach occurred.

"Consumers can't control access to their own credit reports without paying a fee, which is outrageous", said Mike Litt, consumer advocate for U.S. PIRG. The company sent out an internal e-mail requesting that its technical staff fix the software, but that was not done, Smith said. But he gave them credit on one count. "And that is that you have brought Republicans and Democrats together in outrage and distress and frustration over what's happened because this is huge".

"When I came to the company 12 years ago we had virtually no focus on cyber security", Smith testified. The company said there's no evidence that the TALX breach, which happened between March and April this year, and the wider breach are related.

Republican Rep. Greg Walden of OR, the committee's chairman, said the hearing was necessary to do something that Equifax has failed to do in recent months: "Put Americans first".

Tuesday's hearing was the first of four this week.

King & Spalding partner Phyllis Sumner confirmed she is representing Equifax on Equifax data security matters.

Smith said the company had a protocol in place to check for security breaches, but it wasn't followed. Trouble is, the software provider supplied a patch back in March that should have eliminated that vulnerability.

Equifax said it was still determining the extent of the breach for United Kingdom consumers. He said he was alerted the following day, but was not aware of the scope of the stolen data. The public was notified of the breach on September 7.

Asked if Equifax had any knowledge of who might've been behind the breach Smith said he had "no opinion" to share. The company's stock rose 2.9 percent to $110.88.

"Let me close by saying how sorry I am for the breach", Smith said.

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For Equifax, the inquisition is far from over.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce's three-hour hearing was held to answer questions about this year's breach from mid-May to the end of July, when hackers obtained information on over 143 million people from Equifax, or about 44 percent of the US population.

Rep. Walden noted that the House hearing is just the beginning.

And if the lawmakers who blasted Smith at Tuesday's hearing want to prove they care about the safety of our information, they should immediately pass legislation.

"The technology did not find the vulnerability, and that's still under investigation", he says.

Lenders may not stop sharing information with Equifax, but they could put pressure on the company with a lawsuit.

That is why Barton is planning to introduce a bill that will impose fines on companies who fail to safeguard consumer information, a proposal that already has supporters on both sides of the aisle.

"Most major lenders have relationships with all three agencies so that they get the most accurate information about the consumer", Horn said. Especially considering the fact that a team of 225 cybersecurity experts at one of the largest credit reporting agencies didn't recognize the freaking issue.

While he hasn't worked out the specifics, he estimated the consumers could be compensated in the order of $5,000 to $10,000.