WASHINGTON, D.C. —Following calls from U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), the IRS has suspended its contract with Equifax to verify taxpayer information for individuals who create accounts on the IRS website. On Monday, Brown called on the federal government to initiate a review to bar Equifax from consideration for new or renewed government contracts, citing Equifax’s failure to protect the personal information of 145 million Americans and more than 5 million Ohioans.
“Equifax simply cannot be trusted with taxpayer dollars or sensitive information,” said Brown. “Suspending the IRS contract is only the first step. We cannot know taxpayers are protected until Equifax is banned from all federal contracts.”
Shortly after news of Equifax’s data breach became public, it came to light that the Social Security Administration (SSA) contracted with Equifax for the online portal, known as mySocialSecurity. Equifax’s own system was hacked in July, exposing 145 million Americans to identify theft. Brown and his colleague U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) – leaders of the Senate’s Subcommittee on Social Security – called on the agency to provide answers as to whether it could confirm that its users’ information was secure.
At Brown’s urging, Equifax removed forced arbitration clauses from its free credit monitoring and identity protection services offered to consumers harmed by the breach. Last month, Brown joined Senators in calling on the DOJ, SEC and FTC to investigate accusations of insider trading by Equifax executives.
During a hearing of the Senate Banking Committee last week, Brown called for Equifax to invest more in security and less in huge salaries for CEOs. He pointed out that Equifax spent nearly as much on Smith’s multi-million dollar salary as the company spent on cybersecurity. Since last year, Smith earned about $69 million, while Equifax spends just $85 million a year on cybersecurity.