Following the Equifax data breach of 143 million Americans’ personal information, Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (D-GA), David N. Cicilline (D-RI), and John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) wrote to the three main credit rating agencies –Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian – to hear whether these companies will continue to include forced arbitration clauses in their terms of service or end their campaign against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s rule to restore consumers’ day in court.
“The economic security of nearly half of all Americans has been jeopardized because Equifax’s failure to safeguard our most sensitive information, which is now in the hands of criminals. Making matters worse, many of those affected by this massive security breach are unsure whether they even have legal recourse because of your company’s use of forced arbitration clauses. Although Equifax has revised its policy in response to public outcry, this limited change is simply not enough given the systemic nature of this problem and the scope of the lives affected. We therefore request information concerning your plans to revise your terms of service and stance on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) arbitration rule to restore consumers’ day in court.”
The CFPB arbitration rule includes important safeguards for consumers against forced arbitration, a practice that routinely allows corporate entities to avoid class-action lawsuits by burying legal language in the fine print of contracts that require consumers to waive their right to court.
A Republican measure to repeal that rule, supported by all three credit rating agencies, passed in the House of Representatives in July on a nearly-straight party-line vote. It is currently pending in the Senate.
The group of House Democrats denounced the three credit agencies for their opposition to the forced arbitration rule, writing, “Rather than support this common-sense protection, your company and others like it have reportedly campaigned against it, spending millions in campaign contributions and other efforts to undermine both the rule and the CFPB. Now is the time to demonstrate your respect for the rights of your customers, not undermine them.”