Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Senator Elizabeth Warren, during a Senate Banking Committee nomination hearing in Washington, D.C.
Equifax’s ex-CEO is bracing for what is expected to be a brutal couple of days on Capitol Hill next week, and already he is getting a taste of what is to come.
In Fortune opinion column released by her office on Thursday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts called the hack of up to 143 million people’s personal information from the credit reporting company’s website “a nightmare.”
And then she lit into the company: “It’s bad enough that Equifax was so sloppy that it let hackers into its system, but the company’s response to the hack has been even worse.”
Warren criticized Equifax for keeping information about the hack private for more than one month after it discovered it on July 29, and for not clearly identifying whose personal information was compromised even when it did. Most of all, she criticized the company for offering a credit monitoring product that at first would have forced users to forego their rights to sue the company and would cost money after a year if it wasn’t canceled.
“Its first instinct was to gouge consumers and profit off the hack of its own system,” Warren said.
CEO Richard Smith abruptly retired from the company on Tuesday, and some believe it was an attempt by Equifax to avoid being perceived as bowing to Congress. Smith is still slated to testify before committees of both the House and Senate next Tuesday and Wednesday.
“These hearings will still be brutal with Democrats and Republicans on the attack,” wrote Cowen analyst Jaret Seiberg in a note to clients. “There is still a risk that Equifax is perceived as not doing enough.”