Trump Administration Stops Investigation Of Equifax Data Breach

Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Mick Mulvaney.Screengrab/CNN/YouTube

Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s head of the CFPB has decided to protect Equifax rather than American consumers.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has received more attention than usual following President Donald Trump's appointment of Mick Mulvaney as its director. The result has been good for businesses and Wall Street, but not so much for American consumers.

After handing a gift or two to the payday loan industry and stripping the bureau of its power to sue discriminatory lenders, Mulvaney has now ended the investigation into Equifax Inc.'s failure to protect client data from a significant breach last year.

Equifax (EFX.N) said in September that hackers stole personal data it had collected on some 143 million Americans. Richard Cordray, then the CFPB director, authorized an investigation that month, said former officials familiar with the probe.

But Cordray resigned in November and was replaced by Mulvaney, President Donald Trump’s budget chief. The CFPB effort against Equifax has sputtered since then, said several government and industry sources, raising questions about how Mulvaney will police a data-warehousing industry that has enormous sway over how much consumers pay to borrow money.

Though the bureau cannot acknowledge whether or not it is actively investigating, inside sources have indicated no signs of a probe are apparent:

Three sources say, though, Mulvaney, the new CFPB chief, has not ordered subpoenas against Equifax or sought sworn testimony from executives, routine steps when launching a full-scale probe. Meanwhile the CFPB has shelved plans for on-the-ground tests of how Equifax protects data, an idea backed by Cordray.

The CFPB also recently rebuffed bank regulators at the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency when they offered to help with on-site exams of credit bureaus, said two sources familiar with the matter.

Mulvaney stated at the outset that he would need about a month to determine how to best go about directing the bureau, putting much of what it was doing on hold. But consumer advocates are concerned that Mulvaney is shifting the mission of the CFPB in favor of business.