Legal

Even Mr. Monopoly Can’t Save Equifax CEO

And so, the stately marbled floors of Congress resounded with the footfalls of the Monopoly money guy.

You know, top hat and monocle and mustache – that guy.

Oh, and Equifax was a center of attention, as it has been this week. No top hat.

First, the cake. And then the icing. Would you have it any other way?

Equifax’s former CEO, Richard Smith, was front and center before Congress Tuesday, and Congress wanted Equifax facts. You know the drill by now: In a massive data breach, hackers made off with information on 143 million Americans. No, wait, that number is now 145.5 million. Mr. Smith went to Washington, but it was nothing like that sterling Jimmy Stewart movie.

For one thing, the hearings have spawned a few big ideas. Among them, as noted by Bloomberg, the idea the Social Security number may not be the safest conduit of identity verification. Smith has said the SS number is neither private nor secure – might those concerns have swelled a bit in the wake of the breach?

Lawmakers posited, well, laws to pass post-Equifax. One Republican representative, Joe Barton of Texas, said that Equifax and others might be a bit more proactive in heading hacks off at the pass if they were on the hook with federally mandated fines per injured party.

Now the icing…

As reported by Reuters, a protestor dressed as the Monopoly icon of well-heeled moneyed life – a.k.a. Rich Uncle Pennybags – was in the audience on Wednesday. Seated behind Smith in the audience before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Pennybags could be seen dabbing sweat from his forehead with giant paper money.

Pennybags, the guise of a protester from groups Americans for Financial Reform and Public Citizen, was a direct nod to arbitration clauses. As widely reported, the arbitration clauses are a hallmark of financial services firms, and have heretofore limited court-based disputes between firms and their customers. Restrictions on arbitration clauses are now being overturned by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. The overturning itself may be overturned, as the Senate may target a ban on the ban, presaged by a House vote to defeat the CFPB’s rule.

The protestor was Amanda Werner, and in Pennybags regalia she also wielded “get out of jail free” cards.

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