As you may know, on September 7, 2017, the credit monitoring agency Equifax announced that the personal information of approximately 143 million Americans had been exposed as the result of a data breach, which lasted from mid-May through July of 2017. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the criminal hackers were able to access consumers’ names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, and addresses, and, in some cases, driver’s license numbers and credit card numbers were also seized.
Like you, I am deeply concerned about this breach. However, I am pleased to report that the House acted quickly to begin thorough investigations into this matter. Within 24 hours of the announcement of the breach, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling confirmed that preparations had already begun for a hearing to address what he accurately described as, “a very serious and very troubling situation.” Similarly, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden, with Digital Commerce Consumer Protection Subcommittee Chairman Robert Latta, formally invited Equifax CEO, Richard Smith, to testify before the subcommittee on October 3, 2017, at 10:00 A.M. Should you be interested in viewing a copy of the letter Chairman Latta sent to Mr. Smith on September 13, 2017, which finalizes the details of the upcoming hearing, you may do so by visiting the Energy and Commerce Committee website.
Further, if you are interested in finding out whether or not your information has been exposed, reviewing frequently-asked-questions regarding the breach, or taking steps to help protect your information from being misused, I encourage you to visit the FTC website, which is an excellent resource for such information.
We all have a role to play to in protecting our privacy and personal information on the internet, and enhancing cybersecurity in both the private and public sector is and will continue to be a complex and evolving challenge. When breaches like this one occur, it is critical for Congress to demand accountability and to assess the factors that lead to breaches in a fair and transparent manner, in order to assess the steps that can be taken to better protect the American people and our economy and to provide for our national security.
Safeguarding Personal Identification Information from ID Theft
If you or someone you know has been a victim of identity theft, please visit the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) web site at: https://www.identitytheft.gov/. This site is intended to help consumers report and recover from identity theft.
The FTC also has additional resources for those impacted by identity theft and data breaches that have resulted in personal information being hacked and/or stolen. You may access these resources by visiting: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft.
To take steps to safeguard your personal information and Social Security number when interacting with the Social Security Administration (SSA), please visit the SSA's web site at: https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10220.pdf.