Attorney General Maura Healey is going after credit reporting agency Equifax after last month’s security breach — and pushing a bill that would crack down on data leaks.
“It is so outrageous what this company did,” Healey said in an interview with BPR Thursday. “They basically collected volumes of data, the likes of which we’ve never seen, and then they stored it in this digital warehouse and left the back door open for the criminals to walk right in.”
"These are exactly the kind of practices that we try to get after in the Attorney General's office, protecting consumers," Healey said. "We're always going to be aggressive, because we don't want people taken advantage of by deceptive or unfair practices out there."
The new bill — co-sponsored by Senator Barbara L'Italien and State Representative Jennifer Benson and supported by Healey — would require agencies to pay for each customer’s credit freeze or thaw, impose stricter rules on credit information sharing, and pay for five years of credit monitoring service.
“This is an opportunity for us to reform this system,” Healey said. “For far too long, credit reporting agencies have played, I think, fast and loose with our personal information. It’s our information, and the bottom line is, if you can’t keep it safe, you shouldn’t be allowed to collect it.”
The larger issue at play, according to Healey, is who owns the data. Data, she says, belongs to the consumer.
“They’ve figured out a way to monetize it and make a whole boatload of money off it — Equifax to the tune of $3 billion a year,” Healey said. “If they want to sell that [data], and if other companies want that data, that personal information of ours, then they should have to get our consent to have that data, to have access to that.”
Healey’s office is suing Equifax for violating state data laws, including a provision that a company must provide notice to customers in a timely manner.
“There are a few things that went wrong here,” Healey said. “First of all, the data wasn’t protected and got stolen. Second, there [were] major delays on the order of weeks, if not months, in reporting not just one breach, but it now it looks like there were several breaches.”
“There are real concerns,” Healey continued, “and I know that others are looking into this, about the extent to which there were insider trades based on knowledge of the company.”
To hear her full interview with BPR, click on the audio player above.
Correction: An earlier version of this story suggested that Healey introduced the bill that would crack down on data leaks. The legislation was co-sponsored by Senator Barbara L'Italien of the 2nd Essex and Middlesex District and State Representative Jennifer Benson of the 37th Middlesex District.