Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) today called upon Equifax to prove that its subsidiary, The Work Number, is not circumventing or compromising laws that protect individual's financial and personal privacy.
NBCNews.com last week reported that salary and other sensitive employment information on millions of Americans in a large, but little-known database, created through an Equifax-owned company called The Work Number, is being sold to debt collectors, financial service companies and other entities. Speier made the request in a letter, cosigned by six members of Congress, to Richard F. Smith, Chairman and CEO of Equifax.
Speier stated, "As one who has done battle with credit agencies and financial institutions for the past 25 years, I've learned to dissect vague assurances and unintelligible legalese from fair business practices. As the author of one of the nation's strongest state financial privacy laws (California SB 1, 2003), I know the key to consumer protection is consumer knowledge and consent. When this consent is circumvented, protections fail.
"The Work Number appears to have operated under the radar, with little public awareness of the vast trove of data it was gathering. There is no greater threat to privacy than the creation of a database of sensitive consumer financial and personal information sold for profit for purposes that are unclear and without the knowledge of the consumer. Equifax needs to explain exactly how it is using this data, and provide evidence that The Work Number does not pose a threat to the privacy of 190 million Americans."