With Co-Author, Attorney Dave Maxfield
Are you concerned about the Equifax data breach? You should be, as it potentially affects 143 million Americans -- that's half the country!
Today I have a co-author for this post, my friend and colleague Dave Maxfield from South Carolina. He also has a law practice dedicated to representing consumers. He built the wonderful graphics for this post. You should check out his website: http://consumerlawsc.com/
If you care about your privacy and the accuracy of financial information your creditors, potential creditors, banks, insurance companies and employers can see about you, you need to care about the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act Protects Americans and The Economy
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA for short) is a federal law that protects you from the sloppy mistakes of the credit reporting industry.
It gives you the right to sue Equifax, Experian and Trans Union when one or more of them mix you up with someone else, or share your private financial information with somebody who has no business seeing it (among other things).
The FCRA has been around for 40 years. Accurate information drives our economy, and the risk of harm to Americans is so grave when the credit reporting agencies screw up and put false information on your credit report that they made punitive damages part of the statute.
What are punitive damages? It's money they'd have to pay you if you win your case and prove that the credit reporting agency's misconduct was willful. What's willful? It means that you are aware that you keep messing up, but don't do enough to stop it from happening again and again.
Punitive damages are essential to this statute protecting our economy and the dreams of Americans -- because they deter the credit reporting agencies from messing up.
But Some in Congress want to use HR 2359 to Gut the FCRA!
Unfortunately, some members of Congress -- right now, as of the writing of this post and the devastating news about Equifax -- want to take punitive damages out of the FCRA and make it much easier for Equifax, Experian and Trans Union to be careless with your private information!
The bill is in the Financial Services Committee right now, and is titled HR 2359, the FCRA "Harmonization" Act. That's a terrible and misleading name for the bill. It isn't harmonious with anything. It's actually tone deaf. It will make it harder for you to sue these companies if they run roughshod over your private information and your financial life.
If you look up the bill's various sponsors, you'll see that they received campaign donations from Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. So I ask, who do these people in Congress represent? You, the American people, and the smooth functioning of our economy? Or the money? Is this the fox guarding the hen house? I think so.
Equifax, Experian and Trans Union donate to congressional campaigns. Follow the money!
You can look up who Equifax donates to here: http://bit.ly/Equifaxmoney
You can look up who Experian donates to here: http://bit.ly/Expmoney
You can look up who Trans Union donates to here: http://bit.ly/transunionmoney
You can look up your representatives in Congress here: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
Here is a list of some of HR 2359's co-sponsors and their campaign donors.
K&S below is short for "King & Spalding Nonpartisan Committee for Good Government," a Political Action Committee. King & Spalding is the law firm that represents Equifax. You can look up who it donates to here: http://bit.ly/KingSpaldingmoney
And each Representative's political party is designated with an "R" for Republican or "D" for Democrat, followed by the state and district they're from.
Rep. Loudermilk [RGA11]: K&S, Experian
He is the bill's main sponsor.
Rep. Royce, Edward R. [RCA39] K&S, Experian
Rep. Budd, Ted [RNC13]
Rep. King, Peter T. [RNY2]
Rep. Wagner, Ann [RMO2] Trans Union, Equifax
Rep. Tipton, Scott R. [RCO3] Experian
Rep. Trott, David A. [RMI11]
Rep. Rothfus, Keith J. [RPA12] Equifax
Rep. Emmer, Tom [RMN6] Trans Union
Rep. Pittenger, Robert [RNC9] Trans Union, K&S, Experian
Rep. Lucas, Frank D. [ROK3]
Rep. Stivers, Steve [ROH15] K&S, Experian
Rep. Huizenga, Bill [RMI2] Experian