October 17, 2017

VIDEO: Cortez Masto Calls for Stronger Consumer Protections in Wake of Equifax Data Breach

“We have to do a better job of protecting individuals, data, and information, because if you are the victim of identity theft, you may have to spend the rest of your life trying to reclaim your identity.”

“What it comes down to is this: shouldn’t the consumer have the absolute right to control their information and how it’s being used?” 

Washington, D.C. – In today’s Banking, Housing, and Urban Development Committee Hearing, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) called for stronger personal data protections to safeguard consumers against identity theft. Citing the example of the recent Equifax data breach, which compromised the Social Security numbers of over 1.3 million Nevadans and 145 million Americans, Cortez Masto discussed the need for individuals to have greater control over their personal information.

“Prior to my role here, I spent the last eight years as Attorney General of Nevada. Nevada had one of the highest identity theft rates in the country. Because of what happened with Equifax, there is now the potential of millions of Americans’ identities being stolen,” said Cortez Masto.

“And if you’ve ever been the victim of identity theft, you may have to spend the rest of your life trying to reclaim your identity. And it’s not just clearing up your credit. It is addressing somebody who has purchased a boat in your name, purchased a house in your name, committed a crime. And now you’re showing up in court and trying to explain that the person who committed the crime has stolen your identity. This is lifelong and it is going to have a major impact on millions of Americans and that is why this is so egregious.

“We have to do a better job of protecting individuals, data, and information, because you’re collecting it without their approval, and they have to spend years clearing up all of that data. So my concern now is how do we address it? How do we put limits on the data we collect? We always talk about the need for more cybersecurity protection and making sure there’s oversight over the companies. But if there’s human error, there’s going to be more data breaches in the future. So there needs to be some limit to the data we are collecting,” Cortez Masto continued.

“When you go to set up your house and you set up your gas and electric services, they ask for your social security number. When you go to your doctor’s office, they ask for your social security number. This number has become so prevalent as an identifier, I don’t know how you pull it back from the private sector. And quite honestly I don’t know how you protect against anybody having access to it because I can tell you, if the number has already been exposed, a bad guy is going to be able to go online and find it. What it comes down to is this: shouldn’t the consumer have the absolute right to control their information and how it’s being used?”

A full video of Cortez Masto’s questioning can be found here.