Are Credit Reporting Companies Profiting Off of the Equifax Data Breach?

Are Credit Reporting Companies Profiting Off of the Equifax Data Breach?

Just two months after Equifax fessed up to its massive breach impacting over 143 million Americans, advocates are questioning the CEOs of Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax to obtain information on whether they are actually profiting off of the massive data breach.

The Consumer Federation of America, the National Consumer Law Center, Americans for Financial Reform, US PIRG, and other nonprofit advocacy groups wrote to TransUnion CEO Jim Peck, Experian North America CEO Craig Boundy, and Equifax Interim CEO Paulino Barros, asking for detailed information on how the data breach might be leading to higher revenues in credit freeze fees and credit monitoring services.

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.

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.

As many consumers have recently learned, the credit reporting companies often require consumers to pay up to freeze their accounts – even when the industry itself is responsible for the data breach. The industry also aggressively markets credit monitoring and identify theft services, bringing in billions in revenue. TransUnion CEO Jim Peck suggested to investors that the Equifax breach would not harm its direct-to-consumer business. He told investors that “if anything there is probably more engagement from the consumer when these kinds of things happen.”

When consumers make the mistake of making a late payment or sending a payment to the wrong address, they get hammered. But we’re concerned that massive mistakes by the credit reporting industry can actually lead them to even bigger profits.

The public has the right to know more. Read the full letter here.

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.