Equifax garners the most complaints in 2017

Equifax (EFX) is continuing to feel the aftershocks of last year's massive data breach. After all, that break-in compromised the confidential personal information of 143 million consumers and led to the departure of three senior executives, including its CEO.

According to an analysis released Thursday by LendEdu, in 2017 the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) received 30,576 complaints about the Atlanta-based provider of credit reporting services. No other company generated more consumer gripes in 49 states and Washington, D.C. 

That lone exception was North Dakota, where Equifax rival Experian (EXPGY) earned this dubious honor. All told, consumers filed 235,094 complaints about financial services firms with the CFPB last year.

Republicans and Democrats in an otherwise divided Washington have been united in their outrage over how Equifax handled the data theft that the company disclosed in September, months after it failed to fix a bug that it was alerted to in March.

Equifax scrapped a requirement that consumers affected by the breach give up their right to sue if they wanted to use the company's credit-monitoring and identity-theft-protection services after getting slammed by critics. A 2017 LendEDU poll of 1,000 consumers found that 54 percent thought Equifax should have lost its ability to act as a credit bureau following the incident.

"It's quite to safe to say that there are not many companies more excited than Equifax about the calendar turning to 2018," according to a LendEdu blog post.

The same could be said of the many consumers who are struggling to clean up their credit reports and regain their identities that were stolen during the hack.  

In the wake of the breach, CEO Richard Smith, Chief Information Officer David C. Webb and Chief Security Officer Susan Mauldin resigned from the company. A special committee of Equifax's board found that three other executives who sold shares in advance of the breach's disclosure did not commit insider trading. But the matter also is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to Bloomberg News.

Senators Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, and Mark Warner, D-Virginia, this week introduced a bill that would impose "massive and mandatory" fines on credit reporting agencies for data breaches starting at $100 for every consumer whose confidential information was compromised. Had the legislation been in affect last year, Equifax could have faced a $1.5 billion penalty.

Officials from Equifax didn't respond to a request for comment for this story.  The company has said it's improving its data security and adding accountability features to prevent a recurrence of what was one of the worst cyberattacks ever.

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    Jonathan Berr is an award-winning journalist and podcaster based in New Jersey whose main focus is on business and economic issues.