Some headlines cannot be imagined. We could have hit you in the past few days with ‘Former Equifax CEO grilled by Congress’ or ‘Equifax scandal bigger than reported’ but we thought…. Nah, people have got enough to worry about. This last one though, that is really going for the prize, isn’t it?
At a time when the name Equifax is synonym to fraud, stock manipulation and not really caring about your own customers, the IRS decided to grant 7.25 million dollars to the said company in order to verify taxpayers identities.
The contract was given in a ‘sole source order’ meaning Equifax was purportedly the only company able to do the service.
The IRS stated that Equifax would "verify taxpayer identity" and "assist in ongoing identity verification and validations".
Lawmakers on both sides of the political spectrum were not pleased when the news broke. At a time when the US public is hearing nothing but damning stories about Equifax, for a state institution to award it taxpayer funds seems misguided to say the least.
The IRS quickly posted a statement: "Following an internal review and an on-site visit with Equifax, the IRS believes the service Equifax provided does not pose a risk to IRS data or systems. At this time, we have seen no indications of tax fraud related to the Equifax breach, but we will continue to closely monitor the situation."
Republican Senator Orrin Hatch responded: "In the wake of one of the most massive data breaches in a decade, it’s irresponsible for the IRS to turn over millions in taxpayer dollars to a company that has yet to offer a succinct answer on how at least 145 million Americans had personally identifiable information exposed."
As already indicated, the former CEO of Equifax, Mr Richard Smith appeared before a congressional hearing yesterday where he was questioned about the reasoning for not informing the public over the summer of the hacking scandal which could affect some 145 million Americans (Equifax was hacked in July and informed the public in September) and to reveal why Equifax management sold stock options en masse during that period.
So far, three members of Equifax management have stepped down. Richard Smith, CEO, Ms Susan Maulding, the company’s Chief Security Officer and Mr David Webb, CIO.