Richard E. Smith, the former Equifax (EFX) CEO who stepped down in the wake of a massive data hack, kicks off three days of congressional testimony today to explain how the breach was able to take place.
Smith appears before the House Energy and Commerce Committee starting at 10 a.m. He will apologize, according to prepared testimony shared Monday. Smith retired just weeks after the company disclosed a data breach that exposed the personal data of 145.5 million consumers.
Even though Smith is visiting with more visible committees later in the week, today's hearing will be closely watched because it is expected to set the tone for the rest of the hearings, according to Wall Street analysts. Smith will appear on Wednesday before the Senate Banking Committee, on which Massachusetts Democrat Sen. Elizabeth Warren sits, followed by the House Financial Services Committee Thursday.
If Smith doesn't perform well, it increases the probability that lawmakers will advance legislation over how consumers' data is both collected and protected. Credit bureaus are currently subject to rules about how they can sell consumers' financial data, but some lawmakers are calling for stricter oversight aimed at preventing credit fraud and correcting errors on credit reports. Any regulations limiting credit agencies' ability to collect data would threaten their business model, analysts say.